Freedom House wants to see the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba lifted, so that the flow of information to Cuban citizens will increase. As Freedom House studies show (see Another “Special Period” in Cuba? and Change in Cuba), Cuban citizens are isolated from the outside world and cut off from news and views that challenge the warped “reality” presented in official propaganda. This isolation is reflected in the bleak outlook of Cubans. They see little prospect for change on the island, and that prospect seems to give them more anxiety than hope. There is significant fear that political change will bring crime and insecurity to Cuba.
Repeal of the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba will expose Cuban citizens to the outside world, particularly the values and experiences of democracy, counteract the propaganda that the Castro regime uses to make Cubans afraid of change, and convey the promise to Cuban citizens of political alternatives. It will lead to a huge increase in the number of American travelers to Cuba, which in turn will greatly complicate the Cuban government’s efforts to block interaction between U.S. and Cuban citizens and to keep Cubans isolated.
The travel ban infringes on the rights of U.S. citizens. There is no such travel ban in place for any other country, not even for countries designated by the U.S. State Department as state sponsors of terrorism—Iran, Sudan, or Syria. Moreover, the travel ban is discriminatory. Cuban-Americans are allowed to visit Cuba, while Irish-Americans and African-Americans generally may not. Exporters of U.S. agricultural products can travel to Cuba, but exporters of other products cannot.
Repeal of the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba will reinvigorate efforts to advance human rights and democracy in Cuba and reaffirm the right of all Americans to travel wherever they want.
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