Lift ban on Cuban travel

August 07, 1991|By New York Newsday

LAST WEEKEND in Cuba, one of the more tortured anomalies of U.S. foreign policy surfaced in all its anachronistic splendor: While hundreds of elite American athletes were competing in the Pan American games, most of their American fans were unable to watch them and cheer them from the stands in Havana.

That pathetic irony exists because the federal government still forbids most U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba -- a policy that's outlived its marginal usefulness and exists only as an unmelted ice shard from a Cold War. Under this rule, travel to Cuba is allowed only for American travelers in special categories -- diplomats, journalists, scholarly researchers, documentary makers and close relatives of Cubans.

What's the point of continuing to freeze out Cuba? That island of Caribbean-style Marxism has been isolated enough by its own insistence on following a clanking ideology that has led it to near-bankruptcy.

At the Moscow summit, President Bush's security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, told CBS the Soviets should end all military aid to Cuba, since the U.S. poses no threat to the island's security. Fair enough. But neither does Cuba pose a military threat any longer to the United States, if it ever really did.

Cuba's proletarian paradise is in tatters. Its dream of exporting Communist revolution to Central America is likely to remain just that. Let's stop rubbing Fidel's nose in his own irrelevance. What's the harm of letting a few adventurous Americans try out Castro's new resorts, as long as the hosts can keep the swimming pools filled and the meals hot?

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