Travel To Cuba
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
May 30, 2006
ISSUE: Bill bans Florida scholars
from going to Cuba.
Now that Florida is pursuing its own anti-Axis of Evil foreign policy,
which countries should it target in the next round?
Perhaps the state should ban all imports reading "Made in China." After
all, the People's Republic is a communist country and there are plenty
who accuse the Beijing government of human rights abuses, not to mention
playing economic hardball as well.
Ridiculous and foolish, yes, but one is tempted to think the real reason
it won't happen is because China isn't the communist nation 90 miles
from our shores. It's Cuba.
So Gov. Jeb Bush is ready to sign a counterproductive bill forbidding
professors and students at public universities and community colleges
from using state or non-state funds to travel to Cuba.
The bill applies to Cuba and four other countries, including Iran and
Sudan, which stand accused of supporting terrorism. But it's hard not to
conclude Cuba is the main target.
Cuba is on the State Department's list of terrorist-supporting states,
and has been for years. But the U.S. government has never made a
publicly convincing case for putting Cuba on the list.
There's much suspicion the decision is a politically motivated
anti-Fidel Castro one, and that hurts U.S. credibility. But it makes for
good politics in the Sunshine State, and now we have the Tallahassee
bill banning academic travel to Cuba.
The bill is an infringement on academic freedom, and its prohibition on
use of "non-state" funds is over-reaching.
Too much scholarship on Cuba is of dubious quality because the island
tends to attract researchers who are sympathetic to the regime and don't
pursue critical analysis. However, this legislation will encourage more
such studies and reports.
The goal, therefore, ought to be for a full-court press to relax rules
so that a broader collection of scholars could travel to Cuba, thus
producing a more complete and accurate picture.
BOTTOM LINE: The bill will produce more sympathetic analysis on Cuba.