Saturday, November 21, 2009

¡Qué Vengan Los Yuma!

Last Thursday, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a much anticipated hearing on the topic, "Is It Time to Lift the Ban on Travel to Cuba?" (see the full 3-hour webcast). While this is not a new subject for Cuba-watchers, there are a pair of bills currently winding their way through the Congress that seek to do just that. Current prospects for the change aren't good, however, what with the pro-embargo lobby donating generously to the Democratic members of Congress and with Nancy Pelosi saying essentially, "Yeah, but now ain't the time...".

However, those who favor the openning managed to bring together a new and quite forceful group of speakers, including activist and dissident Miriam Leiva (who addressed the gathering from the U.S. Interest Section in Cuba) and blogger Yoani Sanchez (who sent in her own powerful and typically literary statement). Coverage of Sanchez's participation from the Miami/Nuevo Herald is here and here, with a quick summary of parallel events in Cuba and on her blog here.

Phil Peters has covered this ground comprehensively on his own blog, The Cuban Triangle and, in fact, was an invited speaker at the hearing.

I leave you with an excerpt from the statement of La Flaca Indomable, "In the suitcases - A reflection on the necessary liberalization of Americans' travel to Cuba":

"Eliminating these long obsolete travel restrictions would mean the end of the main elements with which official propaganda has repeatedly satanized American Administrations, and the anachronistic travel permit that we Cubans need to enter and leave our country would be even more ridiculous. Of the phrase spoken by Pope John Paul II that January 1998 in the Plaza of the Revolution - 'Let Cuba open itself to the world, and let the world open itself to Cuba' - only the first part would remain to be accomplished..."

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