Opinion – Cancelled trip to Cuba

How Not To Get to CubaBy: Jessica Nowakowski

We, as Americans, are proud people. Throughout the world, our concepts of rights and ideals of democracy are objectified and even enforced because we believe that all citizens have certain infallible rights. These rights, though criticized for sounding too Westernized or verging on impossible for newly formed democracies to whole-heartedly embrace, are still at the forefront of our daily lives as Americans. We can speak, pray, arm ourselves, and be guaranteed a fair trial by our peers, yet one must wonder if the right to travel is in no way equally important?

As of this time, the United States government, and by government I mean the executive branch, would contend that the right to travel is not an inalienable right. Granted, while I could see that someone might not be jumping at the chance to catch a flight to Iraq or Libya; Cuba, as voted by the U.S. Congress, does not require the enforcement of a travel embargo in the 21st century. Our president and his administration think otherwise.

There is a way to get to Cuba even with the embargo though. Or at least we as citizens are made to believe so. The U.S. Department of State’s consular information on travel to Cuba states, “The Treasury Department will also consider requests for specific licenses for humanitarian travel not covered by the general license, educational exchanges, and religious activities by individuals or groups affiliated with a religious organization.” By these guidelines it would be fair to assume that when Villanova University, supported by faculty, students, and the administration would petition for a travel visa, our transparent government for the people would have little opposition to such an idea. Unfortunately these grandiose ideas of freedom are in actuality only that, ideas.

Villanova is still pursuing a travel visa to Cuba through the U.S. Treasury Department. Will I, along with a group of well-rounded, compassionate seniors (with the exception of one exceptional junior) see this dream become a reality before graduation, no! A bill sits upon the desk of our country’s fair President in order to lift the travel embargo to Cuba, yet he promises to continue to punish a 77 year old man that once dreamt of prosperous island in the Caribbean and infringe on my rights to go where I please. In the end I walk away from this experience believing democracy, the freedom of choice, and the ability to live as I please, are wonderful things I have been proud to find in the country of my birth, or have I?