A Cuban Millennial's Take: Obama, Not Carnival Cruise Line, Is the Problem in Cuba

A Cuban Millennial's Take: Obama, Not Carnival Cruise Line, Is the Problem in CubaEXPAND
Courtesy of Carnival Cruise

Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced it would launch cruises to Cuba. Although there was no direct mention that Cuban-Americans would be prohibited, that is ultimately what came to pass. Tuesday, Cuban-Americans filed a class-action lawsuit opposing the move

Who is really to blame for this discrimination? In her op-ed for the Miami Herald, Fabiola Santiago points the finger at Carnival. I disagree.

The governments are the problem. 

The pursuit of money is a necessary byproduct of capitalism. And though we should aim for better, it is naive to expect Carnival to forgo making a profit for the sake of the greater good. This fight isn't commercial; it's political. The fact that our government is allowing a whole class of people to be discriminated against is appalling.

While it's true that any country that conducts business with another must adhere to rules, no other country the U.S. does business with so blatantly discriminates against a group of people. Cuba abuses Cuban-born Americans. Our nation shouldn't stand for that. It's up to us to decide what we will and won't allow from the Castros. If we are soft in our negotiations, they will try to get away with as much as possible.

Of course Cuba doesn't want Cuban-Americans traveling via ship. Most have family there, and by forcing them to enter through the airport, the Cuban government subjects those visitors to arbitrary and exorbitant taxes on goods. I returned to the island once, and though my luggage met weight standards, I still had to pay $500 to take my bags out of the airport. It was infuriating.

Don't pay and you'll lose your stuff. The Castros won't lose out on money.

We can’t allow this bias to continue. Carnival Cruise Line is merely a pawn in a much larger political game. We need to turn our attention toward the governments that are allowing this to happen.

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I have been back to Cuba only once since I left when I was 4 years old. The reason: I simply can’t handle the discrimination against Cuban-born Americans. I’ve never understood why if I have an American passport, I have to renew my Cuban one to travel to the island. All Cuban-Americans have silently borne this burden until now.

It’s time we stop silently carrying the weight of being Cuban-American.

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