Travel to Cuba is a new fad, helped by the changes the Obama administration has made in U.S. policy. It’s easy now for almost any group to go there, under the guise of some educational program or purpose.
But travel to Cuba has long been a practice for American leftists, who have seen the Castro regime not as a brutal oppressor of human rights but as a beacon of light in the Hemisphere. No democracy, free expression, freedom of the press, free trade unions? Who cares, after all? The thrill of visiting the communist island has been too much to resist.
Still, there was usually a pretense that the visitors were not there to celebrate the regime. But not in the coming visit organized by The Nation, the old leftist magazine. Its September trip includes many of the staples, according to The Nation’s invitation letters. The trip will feature:
museum tours with eminent art and cultural historians; seminars and lectures featuring renowned Cuban economists, government officials, community activists, physicians, and urban planners; exclusive concerts with popular jazz artists, troubadours, and folk musicians; performances by students of Cuba’s internationally acclaimed ballet institutes; visits to artist’s colonies and studios; guided tours of Old Havana, the Latin American Medical School, and the University of Havana; and visits to many other inspiring locales and events.
No surprises there. But actually I left out a key clause in that paragraph. The trip will also include:
a meeting and discussion with the Cuban Five, the intelligence agents considered national heroes after spending many years imprisoned in US jails.
This is pretty remarkable. The Nation describes the tour as “a particularly inspiring and extraordinary time to experience the people, politics, culture, and history of Cuba in a way few ever have before.” In a way few Americans ever have before? Now, that’s true enough: how many American get to meet with and celebrate people who spied against our country and were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder? How many Americans want to? Due to their actions four Americans died, in a Brothers to the Rescue plane shot down in international airspace. But the frisson of meeting people who actually—the Cuban government has admitted this—were intelligence agents and were convicted of spying on the United States is so wonderful that it is worth the $5,550 per person fees for the tour.
The Nation says the trip is organized "under The Nation’s license issued by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control to promote people-to-people contact." Perhaps it fits, although I didn’t think the new federal regulations actually included people-to-spies contacts. In any event, let’s applaud the folks at The Nation. No nonsense about going to the beach, and no dissimulation about who they want to see. The visitors will meet no former political prisoners, no members of the Ladies in White opposition activists, no opposition journalists, no one trying to organize a free trade union. Just the regime’s mouthpieces...and the spies.