The less we know about Cuba, the better

Florida legislature: "Don't know thine enemy."

Published June 9, 2006 7:06PM (EDT)

My crazy sunshine state is up to its old idiotic tricks again. An alert from SciDev.Net pointed me to a Science magazine article about a new law passed last week that bans Florida's academics from using taxpayer money to travel to "terrorist" states.

The states so defined are Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Sudan, but this piece of legislation is all about Fidel Castro. The primary sponsor of the bill, Republican state Rep. David Rivera, was looking for a way to pander to his Cuban-American constituents, and he found it.

An editorial in the Palm Beach Post does a good job of explaining why this is a dumb idea that is going to cripple Florida's educational system. But Science goes one better, highlighting the various kinds of research that will be eviscerated -- to Florida's disadvantage.

  • Cuba is the third-largest producer of grapefruit, and has recently improved its grapefruit yield, creating tougher competition for Florida. Knowing how the country pulled this off could be useful information.

  • Cuba has major plans for offshore oil exploration, which, says Marine scientist Frank Muller-Karger of the University of South Florida, "make scientific exchanges between Florida and the island more important than ever before. 'Any major pollution event off the coast of Cuba may reach Florida, and many important fisheries in the Keys may be connected to Cuba,' he says."

    Florida should be the center of the world's greatest concentration of learning about Cuba. Because in a sane world, prudence dictates that we try to understand our enemies, so as to better prepare ourselves for their possible actions.

    Naah -- let's close our eyes and stop our ears: The less we know about what's going on in North Korea or Iran, or right next door in Cuba, the better.

  • By Andrew Leonard

    Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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    Cuba Globalization How The World Works Terrorism