Trump’s new move on Cuba is idiotic

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Havana, Cuba, 2018 near El Malecon

John Bolton is full of crap. And his boss, Donald J. Trump, is in the words of a friend of a friend on Facebook, is a “DoucheCanoe.”

This week, the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. government would again tighten and restrict commercial and travel to Cuba. Bolton, a hard-line lunatic who helped get us into pointless war (Iraq), but was willing to say anything to return to power in the Trump Administration, falsely claimed that tourism hasn’t helped the Cuban people or furthered the journey toward freedom.

In a word, that’s bullshit.

Sorry for the profanity, but sometimes only certain words capture the truth accurately.

My own visit there last year showed me exactly the opposite of Bolton’s claims.

After nearly 60 years of failed U.S. policy — the embargo and failure to engage — hurt the Cuban people, not the Castro government. The isolation allowed strict control over information, messaging and public thought.

The loosening of travel restrictions has led to increased distribution of outside media — many tourists bring stick drives with the latest news from U.S. sources, entertainment programming and other information that then is circulated through back channels to the average Cuban. It is this information that has led to the Cuban government to finally allow a full cable to be run to island for Internet and a loosening of censorship — because the government can no longer control the flow information to the people.

Additionally, Cubans have been able to talk to Americans, share what their lives are like, and in turn, learn about us, the outside world and more. That information spreads, person to person, around the island.

Bolton’s move would change that.

As a nation, we screwed up badly on Cuba. If, say, we had treated it like Vietnam — where thousands of Americans died, for God’s sake — we’d see a vastly different country with McDonald’s and Hard Rock Cafe’s dotting Havana and the Castros would have been long gone.

But instead, pandering to Florida politicians, we embraced this failed, pointless embargo — all the more stupid, when we could have offered to lift it in the early 90s after the failure of the Soviet Union in exchange for progress on human rights and compensation for U.S. property seized during the 1959 revolution.

Now we’re slamming the door again, just as slow, steady progress is being made to open Cuba to the outside world.

Maybe in the litany of idiotic, pointless, thoughtless decisions by Trump and his gang of thugs, this one doesn’t rank up there, I guess. When you put kids in cages, discriminate on the basis of faith, ignore the deaths of thousand of Americans in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria and make moves to nuke the economy, Cuba probably doesn’t rank up there.

Still, I’ve long been fascinated by Cuba, since working in a Cuban-exile enclave in North Jersey. Finally being able to walk the streets of Havana myself was an amazing experience and I learned much in a short time.

We should be embarrassed by this short-sighted, pandering decision.

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