The State Department prohibits American students from traveling to Cuba because it is in the best interests of the Hemisphere, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs said last night.
Addressing Harvard's Latin American Affairs Association, Edwin M. Martin stated that, "A restrictive travel policy is justifiable because we must set a good example for the nations of Latin America." He stressed the fact that in the past Latin Americans had traveled to Cuba specifically for the purpose of indoctrination in revolutionary methods. "We can hardly hope to discourage these activities if we allow American students to travel freely to Cuba."
Acknowledging the academic character of his audience, Martin spoke at length on Latin intellectualism. "Philosophical Marxism provides an outlet for the latent anti-Yankeeism of many South American intellectuals. These men act as a respectable background for the extremist who, for his own reasons, hates the U.S."
The United States, he maintained, is basically misunderstood in South America. There are virtually no American studies programs at Latin schools, and very few professors and students from the U.S. are willing to spend time at the academically weak Latin American universities.
"After all, we are a bigger problem for them than they are for us," he pointed out. "They should want to know about us. But, in the last analysis, while our Latin American aid program can't get along without money, it is shorter of people than of money."
Following his talk, the Assistant Secretary entertained questions from the floor. "Since the Secretary thinks that student travel can do so much to dispel misunderstanding of the U.S. in Latin America," one listener wanted to know, "how can the State Department afford not to let American students go where we are most misunderstood--Cuba?"
Retorted Martin: "I would doubt that any American could really see Cuba.--unless they were handpicked by Castro."