Good smack down on cultural exchange
Regarding Sunday’s FLORIDA TODAY Style story, “Cuba opens for cultural exchange,” one of the most deceptive — albeit perhaps well-intentioned — aspects of the Obama administration’s Cuba policy is its so-called people-to-people travel.
The people-to-people trips barely provide any contact with nongovernmental Cubans. To the contrary, these trips are approved by the Cuban dictatorship and their itineraries are almost entirely composed of visits with Castro regime officials.
Cuba is one of the few remaining totalitarian states. Both Amnesty International, which has been monitoring the human-rights situation in Cuba for decades, and Human Rights Watch confirm the Cuban government continues to enforce a wide array of repressive laws aimed at preventing political dissidents and human-rights defenders from exercising their freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The assumption that the Castro government would allow U.S. tourists or businesses to subvert the revolution via approved cultural exchanges and personal interactions with average Cubans is, at best, naïve.
The truth is American visitors on these exchanges have limited contact with average Cubans, because hotels and resorts are generally off-limits to the average Cuban and controlled by Cuba’s security apparatus. If you do meet a Cuban scholar, environmentalist, artist, musician, community organizer or author on one of these trips, you will almost certainly do so only because the Cuban government has determined the person’s political views are sufficiently orthodox to permit interaction with foreigners.