Father's Day may seem a funny time to consider the cruelty of U.S. policy toward Cuba. These days it's anything but funny for Carlos Lazo, the father of two teenage boys living in Havana.
Carlos Lazo was born in Cuba and came to our country on a raft in 1992. His sons stayed with their mother in Cuba.
Carlos made a life for himself in the United States. He learned English. He remarried. He got a job counseling the developmentally disabled. He even joined the Army National Guard after an earthquake struck Washington State, so he could give something back to his adoptive country and state.
However his life changed, he remained constant in the lives of his kids.
Until 2003, Carlos visited his sons in Cuba whenever he could, and sent money and support between his trips. He loves his boys. But after his last trip to Cuba, his National Guard unit was called up, and Carlos Lazo shipped off to Iraq. A combat medic, he dodged bullets on the battlefield providing medical care to our troops.
In June 2004 Carlos got two weeks of R+R, jumped on a plane, and got as far as the Miami Airport with a charter ticket in his hand all ready to see his sons. But just days before, the new Bush travel restrictions had gone into effect, putting severe and unprecedented limits on the rights of Cuban Americans to see their families. Carlos was turned away. He had to return to Iraq, not knowing if he'd see his sons again.
Surviving the battle for Fallujah, he and his unit returned home safely in March. But Carlos, who did his duty fighting for Iraqis' freedom, is still unable to fulfill his duty or his dream to see his sons in Havana.
His commander in chief won't let him go. Like nine U.S. Presidents before him George Bush thinks if we just keep tightening travel sanctions against Cuba, Castro will be driven from power. And if a devoted parent like Carlos suffers, too bad.
This is no way for a pro-military, pro-family president to treat a soldier.
Under the law Carlos can visit his sons....in 2006.
President Bush, would you like to wish Carlos a Happy Father's Day?