Friday, April 22, 2016

No longer separate but still unequal: Cubans can now travel to Cuba on a cruise ship

The power of nonviolent resistance and the challenges that remain

Carnival Cruise Line ship and Cuban-born protester
 Ramon Saul Sanchez, the Democracy Movement and the Cuban American community have achieved a victory in demanding first that Carnival Cruise Linea U.S. corporation not be complicit in systematic discrimination against Cubans. The Castro regime has had a long standing policy of  not allowing Cuban born travelers to enter or exit Cuba by boat and Carnival was cooperating with this policy. This sparked protests, boycotts, and lawsuits that led the company to end this practice on April 18, 2016. Advocates of engagement, such as Tim Padgett, were doubtful that the cruise would take place any time soon.

Plane over American Airlines Arena with "Boycott Bigoted Carnival Cruise Line" banner
 In the midst of all this on April 15, 2016 Ramon Saul Sanchez received notice that the United States wanted him to leave the country and that his 2002 application for residency had been denied. Ramon Saul suspects the hand of the Castro dictatorship in his current immigration plight.

Today the Castro regime announced that Cuban-born people would be allowed to travel on the May 1, 2016 cruise and was loosening the overall policy. This is a good thing and an example of the power of active nonviolence to effect positive change.

It is important to remember that the Obama Treasury Department on July 7, 2015 signed off on the Carnival Cruise Line - Castro regime deal that discriminated against an entire class of Americans based on their national origin.

It is also important to remember that although Cuban-born people are now allowed on the boat they are still being discriminated against when compared to their non-Cuban counterparts. The Sun Sentinel Editorial board on April 20, 2016 outlined these discriminatory practices by the Castro regime with some key facts.
  • Americans visiting Cuba must present a valid passport and a special tourist card that costs $75.
  • Cuban-born Americans who immigrated after January 1971 must purchase a Cuban passport — even though they have renounced their Cuban citizenship and are now U.S. citizens. These passports are valid for six years and cost $375. To keep these passports active, holders must pay $230 every two years.
  • Cuban-born Americans who left Cuba before January 1971 may use their U.S. passport, but must apply for an HE-11 visa, which costs $250, lasts only 90 days and can take months to obtain. 
Cuban-born Americans can now get on the boat but they are not treated as equals by the Castro regime because of where they were born.  It matters not if they have a United States passport and the irony is that a regime founded on the claim that it is challenging U.S. imperialism treats those born in Cuba as second class when compared to their American born counterparts.

No longer separate but still unequal.

However this separate and unequal treatment of Cuban-born citizens of the United States by the Castro regime should give rise to a question:  How are Cubans living in the island treated by the dictatorship?

Cubans have been shot and killed by Cuban state security agents as recently as 2015 for trying to leave Cuba. The body count of the Castro dictatorship is still rising. The Florida Straits under the Castro regime has been the equivalent of the Berlin Wall, but with estimates of 100,000 killed by academic scholars.

As Cuban-born citizens of the United States now enjoy their May 1, 2016 cruise across the Florida Straits to Cuba, hopefully they will pause for a moment and say a prayer for all those who perished there seeking freedom.


  1. Royal Caribbean is known for its innovations at sea, and the Freedom Class is no exception. All three ships of this class are large and have loads of activities to keep you busy.

  2. I will never set foot on a Carnival Cruise. Royal Caribbean, as long as it doesn't follow Carnival will have my business.