During last week's Cuba hearing in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson was asked about the Obama Administration's new "people-to-people" travel category.
As U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) highlighted, this category is being used for salsa classes, cigar factory tours and all sorts of junkets -- including an ideological trip to re-discover the "glorious" past of Che Guevara (excluding visits to the prisons where Guevara oversaw mass executions, of course).
(See the exchange at the 62:00 mark).
Jacobson couldn't give a straight answer.
Instead, she urged focus on the positive, including the work of faith-based organizations and human rights groups.
That's nice, but it has nothing to do with the Administration's "people-to-people" category.
Faith-based outreach is a whole separate category -- religious travel.
Meanwhile, the work of human rights organizations has long been encouraged under the "support for the Cuban people" category.
So don't mix apples and oranges.
"People-to-people" travel is a demeaning category of trips pre-approved and hosted on the island by the Castro regime.
As Senator Menendez pointed out, they are tourism junkets in disguise.
This category recently served as the vehicle for celebrity chefs to tour Cuba (who then engaged in orgies while there).
Or as this week's "people-to-people" ad by YMT Vacations describes them -- trips for "discerning mature travelers."
Is that an ad or a solicitation?
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