As an American, I can legally travel to North Korea but I cannot legally travel to Cuba. I’m only talking about the legality of it, not the practicality of it. The very idea of free people banning themselves from going to a certain place is ludicrous and contrary to the very idea of freedom. But the fact that I can legally go visit North Korea but I cannot legally take a boat 90 miles south of Florida and visit Cuba absolutely infuriates me just out of general principle.
“Many Americans assume that, as with Cuba, it’s the USA that restricts travel by USA citizens to the DPRK [North Korea]. In fact, the situation is exactly the opposite: since 1995, the only serious obstacle to tourism from the USA to the DPRK has been the North Korean government’s policy not to give tourist visas to citizens of the USA (or of South Korea, the “Republic of Korea”).” http://hasbrouck.org/articles/DPRK.html
(I realize that’s from 2008, but I read an article a few months ago about the surprising legality of Americans being allowed to travel to North Korea.)
How about we finally end the pointless embargo on Cuba (which only hurts American business and the cuban people as it gives the rest of the world the opportunity to invest in Cuba and clearly does nothing to get the Castros out of power) and have a full embargo on North Korea instead? I know we do have certain trade sanctions/restrictions/etc against NK, but not as all-encompassing as what we have against Cuba, and not that punishes individual, if not foolish Americans who travel there for a (likely horrible) vacation. Americans can legally travel to North Korea if they can get a visa and manage to get there. To be sure, NK is the last place in the world I’d ever want to step foot in, but Cuba might be a neat place to visit. I hate traveling so I’m not particularly eager to go to anywhere; it’s just the principle of the matter.
In terms of cruel world leaders we routinely deal with diplomatically, Fidel and Raul Castro are nowhere near as bad as any Islamic Middle Eastern ruler we hold hands, bribe, suck up to, and kiss on the cheek, i.e. the Saudis, Hamid Karzai, Mubarak (yea he was overthrown but meanwhile he was our buddy and far worse than Castro), etc. If only Cuba had oil… but Cuba has no nuclear weapons or WMD ambition as far as we know, the Cold War is over, and as for political prisoners, since I consider people incarcerated for simple drug possession to be political prisoners, the US has more political prisoners than North Korea and Cuba combined.
The hypocrisy of being allowed to legally travel to Pyongyang but not Havana really pisses me off, just out of principle. It’s the truly evil countries like North Korea (and to a far lesser extent Cuba) who prevent its citizens from traveling abroad, not purportedly “free” countries like the US. I should be allowed to travel to any country that will grant me a visa to go there.