By Margarita Alarcón Perea
Jon Anderson once wrote:
“Long distance run-around long time waiting to feel the sound I still remember the dream there I still remember the time you said goodbye did we really tell lies letting in the sunshine did we really count to one hundred.”
A number of years ago I was having lunch in Havana with a group of friends one of whom is Puerto Rican and one could say a quasi member of my family. During the meal the Puerto Rican asked with certain stupefaction: “Is it really true that Florida controls US politics regarding Cuba?” One of the Cubans at the table pretty much guffawed and spat out: “Of course not! To say that one state in all of the US could control that contries policy towards us is ridiculous!” I was sitting next to the Puerto Rican and I managed to whisper in his ear: “I truly believe this guy has no idea what he is talking about!” This was back in the very early 1990´s.
To say that one state controls US policy towards Cuba is in fact silly and insane. Its not one state, its worse! Its one portion of one state! For the better part of 50 years, the City of Miami and basically South Florida have been pulling the strings that decide US policy towards Cuba. It’s as simple as the fact that Dade County controls a whole bunch of the electorate that makes up part of the 29 electoral votes during National Elections for the US presidency.
Marco Rubio, Bob Menéndez, Mario Díaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all members of the US Congress, all Cuban Americans stand behind an amendment to a piece of legislation that provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Executive Office of the President, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Small Business Administration, the General Services Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other independent agencies.
The amendment was offered by Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) to the FY 2012 Financial Services Appropriations bill. Said amendment to such an important piece of legislation to the future of the economy of the nation directly repeals the announcement made by President Obama early in his administration to allow unlimited family travel and remittances for Cuban Americans, which he delivered on a campaign promise.
Back in the days of President George W. Bush, travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans was limited one trip every three years. It also gave new meaning to the concept of “family”, since only first generation blood line relatives were counted as individuals who could apply for travel every three years. The logical and rational part of the Cuban American community in the US spoke out, and was heard by then presidential candidate Barack Obama and basically gave him an ultimatum: you want our vote? Repeal Bushes insane ruling on travel and family. Obama did so upon his election. It is in fact the ONLY thing he has done regarding Cuba that has made any sense.
It took the better part of almost an entire decade to bring reason back to US politics regarding Cuba. It has taken the better part of five decades to start the ball rolling between both nations. Now we are facing the terrifying possibility of going back to square one. In times of economic turmoil where both nations should be working TOGETHER to find common sense solutions for its peoples and its economy, instead of tightening leashes shouldn’t we be working towards shortening the distance that divides us?