Should the U.S. completely lift the travel ban on Cuba?
via AP

Should the U.S. completely lift the travel ban on Cuba?

#LiftCubaTravelBan
#StayToughOnCuba
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President Trump imposed tighter restrictions on Cuba for U.S. travelers and businesses, fulfilling a campaign promise to reverse former President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with the country. Trump and other Cuba hardliners believe the U.S. should not work with a repressive communist regime, but now that Raul Castro announced he is stepping down, many think it's time to normalize relations with Cuba entirely. The Cold War is over and communism lost—it's time to move on. What do you think? 🇨🇺

THE VOTES ARE IN!
#LiftCubaTravelBan
70.5%
#StayToughOnCuba
29.5%

Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, announced he will be stepping down as Cuba's president and Miguel Diaz-Canel will officially become the new leader of Cuba.

Diaz-Canel, 57, was selected as the unopposed candidate to replace Raul Castro, 86. Castro embraced Diaz-Canelwho wasn't yet born when Fidel Castro led his revolution in 1959during Wednesday's session, all but sealing his status as the island's next president... It's the first time in nearly six decades that Cuba is being led by a man not named Castro.

Last year, President Trump announced he would roll back Obama-era efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, stating American dollars should not go to a government known for its human rights violations. But human rights advocates say Trump is a hypocrite. This isn't about standing for human rights. It's about checking off a box to show he's fulfilling his promises to reverse progress made under Obama.

"We’re willing to sword dance with the Saudis and praise the Philippines dictator,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a civil coalition against the travel and trade embargo. “This is the least concerned administration with human rights," he added.

Trump's moves to isolate Cuba has little support outside of a core group of Cuba hardliners. The U.S. is going back to a policy that doesn't work. For the past 50 years, isolating Cuba did not do anything but cement opposition to the U.S. and Obama's agreement was a good first step in doing what is truly good for the Cuban people. Now that the Castro brothers are no longer in control of the Cuban government, shouldn't the U.S. take steps to normalize relations with the country?

But Cuba hardliners like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) argue the U.S. should stay tough on Cuba and the shifting of power in Cuba is nothing more than a "sham."

“The sham ‘elections’ in Cuba were nothing more than a predetermined charade by the Castro regime. With Raul Castro stepping down today, and his appointed crony Miguel Díaz-Canel taking his place, Cuba will continue to be an island imprisoned under the rule of an oppressive single-party political system. The Cuban dictatorship portrays this election as a step towards change, yet we all know that Díaz-Canel and the regime will remain an enemy of democracy, human rights and the impartial rule of law. If Castro truly wanted democratic change for Cuba, he would allow the Cuban people to determine their fate through free, fair, and multi-party elections.”

Trump's decision to stay tough on Cuba was the right one. U.S. travelers are banned from going to the island and businesses are barred from engaging with their Cuban counterparts. Trump says "we have no choice" than to stand up against the communist regime. The Cuban people are being oppressed by their government and this is about standing up for human rights.

“A defensible US Cuba policy is one that supports the Cuban people with as little support to the regime as possible,” said Jose R. Cardenas, former USAID acting assistant administrator for Latin America, in an opinion piece in Foreign Policy. Cardenas admitted that “the line between ordinary Cubans and the regime is impossible to discern.”

If the U.S. began to normalize relations with the communist country, we would be legitimizing an oppressive regime. America travelers will have to vacation elsewhere.

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