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    Travelers to Cuba beware

    Posted on Saturday, 02.12.11

    Travelers to Cuba beware
    By Mauricio Claver-Carone

    On Jan.14, the Obama administration announced the further easing of
    "purposeful" to Cuba. The stated intent of this policy is to:
    "increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba;
    enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban
    people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities."

    On Feb. 4, the regime announced that it would seek a 20-year
    sentence against an American development worker, Alan , for
    "Acts Against the Integrity and Independence of Cuba" – a catch-all
    "law" against anything the regime perceives as a threat.

    Indeed, this "law" is so arbitrary that anyone traveling to Cuba under
    the administration's new measures would be ipso facto in breach of it.
    After all, the expressed intent of the new policy, as noted above, is to
    weaken the control of the Cuban dictatorship over its people –
    presumably a mortal threat to any dictatorial regime.

    So, according to the administration's rationale, Americans traveling to
    Cuba on "purposeful" academic and religious travel will (hopefully) take
    with them copies of the U.N. Declaration of , iPads loaded
    with uncensored literature and subscriptions to foreign press, smart
    phones for Cubans to connect with the free world and engage in
    conversations with dissidents (or discuss current events with regular
    Cubans on the street).

    Faced with this presumed threat, the Castro regime will surely seek to
    blunt the intended effect of the new policy and make fresh examples of
    any would-be who gets in its way.

    Bottom line: Without legal guarantees and respect for basic human
    rights, any American traveling to Cuba under the administration's new
    policy can be whimsically for an indefinite period. Indeed,
    recent Iranian actions against three U.S. hikers show how the arrest of
    American travelers can become a favorite past time for cruel dictatorships.

    Therefore, the State Department should issue a clear travel warning to
    Cuba. Or better yet, the administration should revert its new policy
    until Cuban laws are transparent and, hopefully, more humane. Otherwise,
    the administration's new policy amounts to nothing more than a
    measure, which would not only be in contravention of congressional
    intent, but of U.S. law.

    Mauricio Claver-Carone wrote this view in his He is the executive director of Cuba Democracy
    Advocates in Washington, D.C., a non-partisan organization that promotes
    a transition in Cuba toward human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
    He serves on the board of U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC.