You say you would like to go to Philadelphia for the Fourth? Do you have permission to leave your home town? You do? Then do you have permission from Philadelphia to visit?
Oh, you also want to go to Cuba in September? In other words, you want to go to jail?
This is how I react when people rave to me about Cuba. Maybe they have visited. Maybe they have read propaganda from Cuba.
And this is how I think when I read about the Pope’s visit to Cuba. And when I see stuff about the president’s visit and schmoozes with the Castros. And when I see anything from anyone who cozies up with anything to do with communism.
Sure, Cuba has its charms. Sure, many Cubans enjoy many things about life there. And how about those cigars? Don’t forget the cool music.
Ahh, but those who sing Cuba’s praises overlook a simple sobering fact: Cuba is a type of prison. The prisoners are most of the Cuban people.
This is true of China as well, although China has certainly loosened its controls over its people over the last few decades.
If you feel like shooting off to Bermuda, you can. Book your flight today. Fly next weekend. If you happen to be Cuban you cannot shoot off to Bermuda. Try to and there may be another type of shooting — with you as the target.
The Cuban government owns you. It imprisons you. It tells you whether you can leave Cuba. And by the way, it also tells you who your leader is. You have no voice and no choice in this. One man has chosen himself to be your leader since the late 50’s. He decided a few years ago to let his brother be your leader. Nice of him.
Imagine being owned by a government. Imagine if Obama told you today he has decided to remain as your president for the next 30 years. After that he will let his wife rule you.
Imagine that if you managed to escape this country the family you left behind would suffer. They might get booted from their homes or demoted in their jobs.
This is what happens when Cubans risk their lives to sail to Florida on jury-rigged rafts and boats.
In China in the 80’s people needed permission from authorities to leave their town or city to visit Mom in another city. They needed permission from authorities in Mom’s city to enter.
Those who sing the praises of countries under communism ignore such. They tell us the hotels were modern. They tell us the people are so friendly and so happy. You should learn about their healthcare, they tell us.
You should learn about their jails, I suggest. That is where Cubans and Chinese land if they try to exercise what we regard as basic freedoms.
Ronald Reagan had the courage to cry out for the prisoners of communism. He called the Soviet Union an evil empire. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” he demanded. I call this courageous. Because his advisers insisted he not say such things. Leaders and critics around the world attacked him.
I call this courageous because neither the Pope nor President Obama dares say the same today. Imagine how inspiring either could have been in Havana if he had sung out “Mr. Castro, open the gates of this prison!”
For years much of the world censured and isolated South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) because whites subjugated blacks in those countries. Today the same countries approve of the slavery in Cuba. Cuba is a slave state, pure and simple.
By not speaking out about the slavery, President Obama and the Pope give tacit approval. Leaders around the world are just as guilty. It is pitiful that speaking up for the most basic freedoms requires such courage. Yes, pitiful.
Tom Morgan is a veteran columnist whose column appears weekly in the Observer-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.