In 2004, the Bush Administration strengthened the Cuba embargo first put forth in 1963. The 2004 ban was focused on higher education: Study abroad trips shorter than 10 weeks were declared illegal because they did not provide opportunities for genuine academic study or exchange of ideas about democracy, according to a report from the U.S. State Department. A group of academics had challenged this ban, which was recently upheld by a federal appeals court.
The 1963 trade embargo looks foolish enough 45 years later; to see that the government is looking only to strengthen this embargo at the expense of education is a national shame. Halting trade with a small island nation simply because its political system is not the same as ours is closed-minded and foolish.
This embargo is even more alarming when contrasted with how America treats other Communist nations. One needs to look no further than China to see that when there is economic incentive, America will put aside its political goals.
The Bush Administration illogically believed that reducing the number of Americans in Cuba would hasten the state’s transition to democracy. Although anti-American sentiment is high around the globe, the best way to introduce democracy to a country is to have people espousing the virtues of it. By limiting the number of Americans in Cuba, we are ensuring that Cubans will be less exposed to democracy than they would be otherwise.
America is a free country. This freedom must extend to learning about other cultures, especially when they are different from our own.