- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

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

Categories: Latin America, North America, Cuba, U.S.A., Economics & Business, Freedom of Speech, History, Human Rights, Ideas, International Relations, Media & Journalism, Migration & Immigration, Politics, Technology, Travel

The Obama administration [1] yesterday announced [2] some key changes to U.S. policy [3] 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) [4], rendering the new policy, in the words of The Cuban Triangle [5], “humanitarian, unsustainable, small-bore, a kind of inoculation, and a question mark.”

The blogger [5] 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 [6] 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 [7] 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 [8] – as well as throughout the diaspora – has been…well…mixed [9]. The Latin Americanist [10] 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 [11]‘ 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 [12] with the U.S. Yet he also blasted the forty-year long blockade which he labeled as a ‘truly genocidal measure [13]‘.

The Cuban Triangle [14] also posts a roundup of reactions.

Cuba, desde mi ventana [15] [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 [16] [ES] posts an interesting roundup of reactions to the policy change from ordinary Cubans.

The thumbnail image [17] used in this post, “propaganda”, is by fudj, used under a Creative Commons license [18]. Visit fudj's flickr photostream [19].

Solana Larsen [20] contributed to this post.