Plight of Afro-Cubans


Re the Dec. 10 story Cuba-U.S. handshake — 13 years in the making: The handshake symbolized the manual labor exerted daily by ordinary Cubans to live their best lives. If they happen to be Cubans of African descent, their labor is more arduous.

The U.S. embargo intensifies the plight of Afro-Cubans. They’re less likely to have relatives living outside of Cuba sending them money.

For this reason, the embargo creates an unofficial apartheid system that adds to the disenfranchisement of Afro-Cubans. It also prevents American citizens from helping Afro-Cubans build institutions and networks in order to support their entrepreneurship and facilitate higher education opportunities.

Will Obama act soon to relax the current travel ban for more U.S. citizens? Probably not, but he should. Several generations of Americans of Cuban ancestry have maintained family ties in Cuba. This includes visiting Cuba and sending money to relatives. Yet, they oppose normalizing relations with Cuba, which would allow for the upward mobility of Afro-Cubans.

In fact, if Obama relaxed the current travel ban, perhaps the hastened socioeconomic mobility of Afro Cubans would speed up political change in Cuba.

Mark M. Spradley, Chevy Chase, Md.

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