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Cuba, U.S.A.: Extending an Olive Branch?

The Obama administration yesterday announced some key changes to U.S. policy designed to “reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future.” While the policy shift allows for a lift on travel and remittance restrictions and paves the way for greater telecommunications links with the island, some bloggers are concerned that the measure has not gone far enough (e.g.: the trade embargo still remains in place), rendering the new policy, in the words of The Cuban Triangle, “humanitarian, unsustainable, small-bore, a kind of inoculation, and a question mark.”

The blogger goes on to explain:

Today’s action – affecting travel and remittances, telecommunications equipment and services, and gift parcels – was dramatic because it changes eight years of movement in the opposite direction. But it still leaves President Obama with a 90 percent-Bush Cuba policy. (Candidate Obama said that policy amounted to “tough talk that never yields results.”) Beyond Cuban Americans, it does not address the issue of broader contact with American society, whether from tourists, universities, professional associations, churches, synagogues, or other parts of our civil society. Nor does it address diplomacy, and the President’s spokesmen repeatedly dodged questions about what kind of dialogue the Administration might seek with Cuba.

But Cuba-Blog seems comfortable with the fact that the President was delivering on his campaign promises, saying:

[He] has opened the door to Cuba and Cubans a little bit more…

Reaction in Cuba – as well as throughout the diaspora – has been…well…mixed. The Latin Americanist reports that former Cuban President Fidel Castro was unhappy about the embargo remaining in place:

In an article written in the Cuban press, Castro seemed to be pleased that President Barack Obama scrapped ‘several hateful restrictions‘ enacted by the previous presidential administration. Castro briefly struck a conciliatory tone when he wrote that the Cuban government would be willing to normalize relations with the U.S. Yet he also blasted the forty-year long blockade which he labeled as a ‘truly genocidal measure‘.

The Cuban Triangle also posts a roundup of reactions.

Cuba, desde mi ventana [ES], a blog whose mission statement reads: “I would like to share with you information about the international activity of Cuba, which is my country of origin, whose image is distorted in the world by the enemies of the Cuban Revolution”, is not pleased that the new U.S. policy did not extend to the embargo:

El presidente Barack Obama eliminó el lunes ”todas las restricciones” para que los cubanosamericanos puedan visitar Cuba y enviar remesas desde Estados Unidos, pero sin tocar aspectos del criminal bloqueo económico…que ha provocado pérdidas directas a la Isla caribeña por más de 93 mil millones de dólares…

President Barack Obama on Monday lifted ‘all the restrictions’ so that Cuban Americans could visit Cuba and send remittances from the United States, but without touching upon aspects of the criminal economic blockade…that has caused direct loss of more than 93 billion dollars to the Caribbean island…

Meanwhile, Havana-based Yohandry's Weblog [ES] posts an interesting roundup of reactions to the policy change from ordinary Cubans.

The thumbnail image used in this post, “propaganda”, is by fudj, used under a Creative Commons license. Visit fudj's flickr photostream.

Solana Larsen contributed to this post.

4 comments

  • Abraham Sadegh

    The presence of democracy in the midst of dictatorship strengthens democracy and undermines dictatorship.

    Our past policies regarding Cuba have been mistaken policies. The suffering we have cause has affected the ordinary Cubans and not those in power.

    The easing of restrictions is a blessing but our relationship with Cuba should be the same and that of most countries in the world.

  • […] Cuba, however, continues to be top of mind for some bloggers. Alfredo Prieto, writing for Havana Times, says: Even if the subject of Cuba is not reflected in the Final Declaration -because of that being considered OAS territory-, the issue will fall like a Juggernaut onto the warm beaches of the Trinidad and Tobago conference site. […]

  • In a recent analysis on American obsession over Cuba, STRATFOR published that:
    “Though the Soviet threat expired long ago, easing the embargo on Cuba has always held limited value to American politicians with ambitions. For them, Florida is more important than Cuba.” Click here for the complete analysis: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20090413_beneath_u_s_obsession_cuba

  • Doubt much of our programming will be allowed in Cuba, but agree the Castro’s are probably in their 9th inning. When Fidel goes, will Raul hold
    on to power?

    I favor normalization and anything that delivers peaceful co-existence. The Cuban people have a right to self-determination, which they are currently being denied. Many Americans do not know what fueled Fidel’s revolution: the United States had propped up a brutal dictator Fulgencio Batista, similar to what we’ve done in the past across Latin America, Shah of Iran, the list goes on.

    It was largely out of concern, paranoid or legitimate, over holding Soviet expansion in check. Many people will point to imperialist objectives also, which usually had U.S. corporations exploiting citizens of these nations in abuse-labor circumstances, and taking the gains of that labor from those nations and into their private coffers.

    Again, none of this is well understood by most Americans. It’s not found in the major media, you have to dig for it.

    But the Soviet Union is gone and Latin America is evolving now. We are
    not interfering when a nation like El Salvador recently elects FMLN, which for decades was a socialist insurgency movement. It is up to Obama at
    the Summit of the Americas (Trinidad & Tobago 4/17-4/19), to let those south of us know we are finally ready to be a good neighbor.

    Here is a link to the Op-Ed which Obama wrote yesterday in the Trinidad Express, St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald;

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Op-ed-by-President-Barack-Obama-Choosing-a-Better-Future-in-the-Americas

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