'End the book embargo to Cuba'
“End the book embargo to Cuba.”
A book embargo? But aren’t we supposed to favor a free exchange of ideas?
Yes, the same way we are supposed to be champions of human rights but keep sending back Central American kids — close to 10,000 so far — to a life of torture, misery and rape, if they are lucky enough to survive the murderous violence in their countries.
Yet that’s the extent of the absurdity of a U.S. policy towards Cuba that has been in place 55 years. Even today, when diplomatic relations have been renewed and President Obama is traveling to Havana in a few days, the anachronistic and cruel embargo — not only of books, of course — still stands.
That’s why on the eve of Obama’s historic meeting with Raúl Castro, his Cuban counterpart, more than 50 publishing industry heavyweights are petitioning the White House and Congress to end the embargo of books and educational materials to Cuba.
The magazine Publishers Weekly, that will run it on its March 14 cover, posted the petition on its website (publishersweekly.com).
Some 40 American publishing industry bigwigs — who called the book embargo "counter to American ideals of free expression"— traveled to Havana last month and met with representatives for the Cuban Book Institute, Ministry of Culture and Association of Cuban Writers, as well as Cuban editors, authors, academics and students.
The purpose of the trip, they said, was to "build bridges of understanding and explore opportunities for greater cultural and economic collaboration."
Pointing out Cuba’s adult literacy rate of almost 100 percent and its “rich and proud literary tradition,” the publishers stressed the commercial opportunities that a collaboration with their Cuban counterparts would open “for the benefit of readers and writers everywhere.”
Most people would agree this is a worthy initiative that should have been implemented a long time ago.
Most people, but not the motley crew of Republican presidential hopefuls, perennially tripping over each other to prove who is the most reactionary and mean-spirited. Almost unbelievably all of them have declared that, if elected, they will close the the U.S embassy in Havana and push U.S.-Cuba relations back into the dark ages.
Embarrassingly enough for real Cubans, two of the GOP contenders — Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — are Cuban-Americans, but have no shame in proposing policies that only serve to punish the people of the country where their parents were born.
In the improbable case that one of them ever gets to the White House you can forget about ending the book embargo, lifting the blockade or even having civilized relations with our neighbor 90 miles to the South.
For all their talk of change, when it comes to Cuba, both of these “cubanos arrepentidos” (repentant Cubans) — as Miami Herald columnist, Fabiola Santiago, has called them — are still fighting the Cold War. From the air-conditioned comfort of their Washington offices, of course.
Contact Albor Ruiz at [email protected].