Thursday, August 21, 2008

Have You Visited Yet?

If you haven't yet visited, take the time to check out the Along the Malecon blog. It's written by Tracy Eaton, a veteran journalist of 25 years and former news bureau chief in Havana, Cuba, for the Dallas Morning News from 2000 to 2005.

Eaton has plenty of pictures to share from Cuba, and plenty of stories to tell.

Today, Eaton mentions other photographers who work, or have worked, in Cuba, such as Rob O'Neal of the Key West Citizen. Eaton links to a new article by O'Neal on his recent trip to Cuba. It's pretty good, and again highlights US travel restrictions to Cuba. O'Neal mentions the story of the person he sat next to on the plane:

"I can't remember her name, but I found myself sitting next to a lovely lady whose parents live in Trinidad. Her father has Alzheimer's and she and her daughter had finally gotten a visa to see them. To this day, it amazes me that our government goes to such lengths to keep Cubans from their families all in the name of "propping up" the Cuban regime. Have you ever heard of China? There's still nothing like a good, old-fashioned American double-standard, is there? With the exception of dire medical emergencies, Cubans are allowed only one visit every THREE years. We impose that law on no other nationality, and that's a fact, Jack."

O'Neal recounts other interesting events on his 19th trip to Cuba. And, he ends with this:

"On the way back to Jose Marti International Airport the next day, I found it hard to believe another 10 days of adventure, camaraderie and virtually non-stop photography was coming to an end, again. I wondered how much longer it would be before the people of these neighboring countries [US and Cuba] could join again. The Cuban people have so much to offer, I hope someday you can see this for yourselves."

Many who support American restrictions on travel to Cuba are certainly wrong to prohibit people from experiencing a visit to the island. The right to travel must be distinguished from the right to protest. Just as all have the right to protest the Cuban government by voluntarily not traveling to Cuba, one should also have the right to protest and still travel to Cuba. Nobody should be coerced by the state to choose certain methods to fight for a cause.

Many who vehemently support travel restrictions to Cuba believe these methods will bring attention to their cause. But, the use of force, through imposed sanctions or travel restrictions, is not an honest way to call for or organize a movement for freedoms.

Freedom means granting people to the right to choose their fights and how to fight them. If one want to travel to Cuba and fight for human rights there, they should be able to. If one want to do nothing about a free Cuba, then so be it. That's freedom. But, it seems some people don't understand that.

[Photo above of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba]