Stephen Flynn

With Fidel Castro cast away into the land of irrelevance, I hope to see the U.S. embargo on Cuba relaxed, if not dismantled. For 50 years it has been illegal to travel to Cuba and conduct trade with its people.
Anybody who willfully violates the travel ban could face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, according to Treasury Department documents available online. This isn’t a bluff. The severity of the charge has been unleashed before on American citizens.
Last October, a South Florida businessman, Victor Valquez, received a sentence of two years in prison for not only traveling to Cuba without government permission, but also for creating and selling fraudulent travel licenses to those wishing to circumvent the travel ban.
Some might think Valquez deserves the two years since he broke the law, but Valquez simply responded to the demands of a free people wishing to travel to any country they pleased.
If America is supposed to be a free country, why do we need permission to travel to Cuba? Every other country allows its people to travel there, so why act as if we live on a different planet?
Yes, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis, but that happened 46 years ago during the Cold War. Cuba poses absolutely no national security risk to the U.S.
Cuba is ruled by a communist regime, but so are China, Vietnam, Laos and North Korea; Americans can travel to those four countries without government permission.
Cuba has a poor human rights record, but so do many other countries, like Saudi Arabia. Did you know that an American woman living in Saudi Arabia was recently imprisoned for sitting next to her male colleague at a Starbucks in Riyadh? Despite the horrible treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, nobody talks about embargoing that country.
With the embargo lifted, American money would flow into Cuba and help prop up the existing regime. While that sounds undesirable I believe that it shouldn’t matter. This issue has nothing to do with what happens in Cuba and everything to do with Americans being able to exercise their right to travel anywhere they want. Cubans can’t leave their country without a burdensome exit visa, and our supposedly superior government treats us the same way.
Never mind the benefits the embargo will bring to Cuba. It needs to end — simply because it contradicts the notion that we are a free people.