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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/21/10

US freedoms and Cuba

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Message Tim Anderson

US freedoms and Cuba

"I'm North American, you know, don't like to hear where I can't go

Free people will insist on the freedom to travel." - Jackson Browne

As debate over the Cuban travel ban continues in the US Congress, US citizens remain afraid of visiting their largest Caribbean neighbor. Most are probably unaware that Washington has virtually abandoned the policing of individual travel to Cuba.

While in 2003 the US Treasury fined 240 individuals, most for attempting to import Cuban cigars, in 2009 only three individuals were fined for Cuba-related transactions. Yet as Cuban tourism continues to grow, US citizens account for less than two percent of it.

US citizens are now engaged in effective self-enforcement of the travel ban. They are staying away despite there being virtually no risk that they will be caught or fined for visiting their closest and safest tourist destination.

This "self-control' is surprising for a large population which prides itself on individual liberties. As Jackson Browne suggests in his song, "Going Down to Cuba', the travel ban grates on the self-image of a "free people'.

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Tim Anderson is an academic and social activist based in Sydney, Australia
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