So about 25 Georgia politicians, Department of Agriculture folks and business people went to Cuba this week.
Apparently we send groups there pretty regularly, and the Department of Agriculture has a license to travel there. You need one of those from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to get around federal travel restrictions.
That's according to the U. S. State Department's Web site.
Tourist travel "is not possible under U.S. law," according to the site. Business travel is "restricted to persons engaging in or arranging for permitted export sales, such as the sale of medicines or medical equipment, or for food or agricultural goods to non-governmental entities."
I know very little about Cuba. I know the state department lists it as a country that aides terrorists. It's got a Communist dictator we don't like too much, and there are economic sanctions in place. I learned last week that several Georgia companies sell stuff there. Mostly chicken, according to Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin, whose department coordinated the trip.
Apparently this is a multi-million-dollar a year business for Georgia companies. Obviously the people of Cuba need chicken, and they're probably not the reason our government doesn't like their dictator.
Beyond that, the tide is obviously changing in Cuba, and Fidel Castro is getting old and sick, and the powers that be are clearly getting more than a foothold so they'll be ready when he dies and U.S.-Cuba relations open up.
But I still think this is a reasonable question: If it's OK for Irvin and the Speaker of the Georgia House and most of the Republican leadership from the Georgia House of Representatives and Montezuma state Rep. Lynmore James and U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston to go to Cuba, how come you and I can't?
To put it another way: Is this a case of "Do as we say, not as we do?"
By the way, state Rep. Jay Roberts reports that Cuba seems frozen in time since Castro came to power in 1959. The motel the group stayed in was built in the 1930s, he said, and there are no casinos in Havana.
"So it's not like Godfather II?" I asked.
No, he replied. It's not like Godfather II.