A giant jail
Regarding "Stifling travel to Cuba" (Our Views, Sept. 16):
I am no longer in shock when I read about Cuba in your newspaper. For years I have switched between the Trib and the old St. Pete Times, after not being able to take any more of the incomplete editorial lines of these newspapers whenever the Cuba issue is broached. Now I subscribe to the Trib.
There are two distinctive issues when travel to Cuba is discussed. One deals with the travel by Cuban natives who were granted refuge in this great nation because of fear of persecution by a Communist state — the same state that rules Cuba today. If these people feel safe when traveling to Cuba today, there is no reason to allow them to re-enter the country. If they still want to live here, they should apply for a visa and stand in line with the legions of people who desire to emigrate and live in the United States from around the world.
The other issue is travel by U.S. citizens not born in Cuba. The Tribune and the press in general take the side of the merchants, ignoring the rights of the Cuban nation to be free to choose the type of government it wants. By merchants, I mean, for example, the interests of Tampa International Airport or the Port of Tampa; the Cubans who own some of the travel agencies that charge draconian fees in travel and packages delivery; and the actions of the conductor of the Florida Orchestra who won't play a Wagner piece in deference to his father's past experience with the Nazis but feels good to propagandize Cuban musicians, etc.
It has been more than 50 years since 1,200 men were sent to die at the Bay of Pigs, and the tyrant urged Russia to fire nuclear missiles at the United States in the Cuban missile crisis. And 10,000-plus documented Cubans are dead at the hands of tyranny. The Cuban diaspora is composed of 2 million people out of a population of 11 million. After the transformation of a country that ranked high on many of the indexes used to rank nations into one that is surpassed today only by Haiti in the Americas, and after these and many other horrors, it is understandable that there is curiosity about Cuba in the general population.
To those free citizens motivated by curiosity, I say go to the nearest zoo. Our government should not need to impose any travel restrictions on anyone. It is a matter of common decency to stay away from a giant active jail regardless of how many mojitos are included in the tour.
Aid to Israel
There is one country that gets fully one-third of all U.S. foreign aid. This country is not poor. The average income is in excess of $15,000 annually. It produces nothing of strategic importance to the United States. Yet we send this country of only 8 million people more than $3 billion every year. That country is Israel.
In a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing everything in his power to get the United States into a war with Iran. We must not allow this to happen.
Netanyahu's claim that Iran is about to attack his country is a hollow argument. What hasn't been asked of Netanyahu is this simple question: Does Israel have nuclear weapons of its own? I think the answer is yes. If Israel does have nukes, then Netanyahu's argument of an imminent attack is a completely false argument. Iran would have to be dumber than a rock to attack a country that could wipe it off the map. Perhaps it's time to rethink the $3 billion we send Israel every year.
F. M. Younglove
Raise the price
Regarding "Teen forced into sex trade" (front page, Sept. 18): This story about the victims of two child sex traffickers should also have included the major drive behind the success of human sex trafficking: Without customers, these sex traffickers would not prey on women and young girls. I urge Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to make the fight against prostitution in Tampa a priority and to aggressively prosecute not only the traffickers but also those who pay money for illegal sex. The victimization of these young girls and women will decline when the price of being caught is too high.