With an End to the Embargo We Can...

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It’s been a year of historic change. Most of us working to bring about a change in US-Cuba relations gave up long ago. We didn’t think we’d be around for any kind of détente. Yet, here we are, our two leaders actually seem to be enjoying themselves! And many people in and out of government are sitting down with one another, trying to work out the many problems engendered by almost 55 years of not talking.

But we are still struggling to end the US embargo against Cuba, still fighting for an end to the travel ban, and true normalization: commercial air flights, regular mail and shipping services, US assistance not only to private entrepreneurs in Cuba but also help for the country’s infrastructure and social services.

With an end to the embargo, we can stop loading up our suitcases with cigars for desperate friends; they can just be imported. With an end to the embargo, we can stop lugging paper for printmakers, photographic paper, canvas, brushes, paints; they can be imported. We can open an accessible art gallery in Havana and stop carrying and shipping via third countries all of the wonderful products of Cuban artists. And when we do ship, we can send via FedEx instead of Virgin or Copa airways through Panama or Canada or London!

With an end to the embargo, the Cuban exile builder who’s waited for years to help refurbish Havana’s crumbling structures can send the necessary equipment and materials to make his help a reality. When the embargo ends, apples, peanut butter and raisin challah can be available in Cuba (okay, so those aren’t YOUR favorites, but I get very excited when I see apples or peanut butter in Cuba; usually I have to bring my Honey Crisps and Jif cups). Musicians can fly between Cuba and U.S. for concerts and can be paid without fear of violating the Trading with the Enemy Act. We could import wonderful Serrano coffee, delicious Santiago rum – AND SWEET LITTLE BANANAS!

So, I’m asking a favor of readers. On Thursday, December 17, one year after Presidents Obama and Castro announced the resumption of diplomatic relations, WRITE to your congress-person, write to your senator, tell them that the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba must end, that the nasty even vicious attitudes locked into the Torricelli Bill and the Helms-Burton Bill shame us as a nation.