United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Thursday, January 20, 2011

United States Cuba Policy - Here We Go, Again!

While there is great euphoria and optimism among those who have been working year after year after year to bring sanity to US/Cuba policy, some of us are not excited over President Obama’s press release of last Friday. Until the regulations are promulgated, we can only speculate what they are going to say. As is always the case, when announcements are made regarding US/Cuba relations, the perception of positive developments always outweighs the reality of actually what happens. We must keep some realistic political perspective on the announcement.

It is worth noting the White House announced the “new measures” at 5:00pm last Friday afternoon.   Knowing a majority of Republican and Democratic Members of Congress were not in Washington, DC,  the Obama Administration knew there would be little fanfare or backlash.  That is a significant point to many of us, because it shows the Obama Administration is not serious about enhancing US/Cuba relations!   The President’s announcement still leaves much to be desired.  When a person has been starving and has been given a small piece of bread, of course it is a celebration to the hungry person.  But it is still a small piece of bread and the individual ultimately still remains deprived.   There is a genuine question whether this announcement was merely the equivalent of the administration saying “here is all we are going to do on Cuba travel, now don’t come back and bother us until after the next election.”

 Our sources tell us that matters like shutting down Radio and TV Marti Programs will not be addressed by the Obama Administration, and they will continue with programs that covertly, and at times overtly, attempt to destabilize the Cuban Government. Why are so many persons excited about “the new regulations” announced by President Obama that makes it easier for Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba; a little easier for religious groups; a little easier for educational groups; and allow American citizens to send $500 to Cuban citizens, quarterly?  The Obama Administration lacked the political courage to even put back into place the very popular and successful “people-to-people” visits of the Clinton era!

Until those who want to lift the travel ban, end the embargo, and create a positive American influence on Cuba play the “political” money game, the Congress will not move in a new direction.  Everyone knows that the Congress is motivated by two things only—votes and money—the same two factors that motivate the President of the United States.

Finally, how can the hardline Cuban American congressional sextet be challenged and defeated in Congress and at the ballot box? The pro-travel majority must work together, speak with one voice and raise political money.  Clearly, no one in good conscience can argue that those of us who seek rapprochement with Cuba now are not one hundred percent correct. - Albert A. Fox Jr.


Nubia Constanz said...

The Obama administration has taken a political decision. As such, the Obama administration has succumbed to the blackmail of the Castro regime. It is absurd and irresponsible to facilitate travel to Cuba for Americans, while another American has been seized by the Castro regime for the past 13 months without charge, trial or due process. Such policies of appeasement and servility only encourage dangerous behavior of the Castro regime, endangering American lives

Tony Martinez said...

In response to this comment by N Constanz,
travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens is not succumbing to blackmail, appeasement, or encouraging dangerous behavior on the part of the Castro/Government of Cuba. Americans want to travel to Cuba, freely, without hindrance. Our policy with Cuba is absurd. And thousands of Americans travel to Cuba legally without any problem, All Americans should be allowed to travel to Cuba if they choose to. The American you refer to who was arrested is Alan Gross. His case is widely discussed here on the blog and over the internet. We hope he will be freed by the Cuban government and that we will stop using policies that put Americans in danger when traveling abroad to foreign countries.

Nubia Constanz said...

You have to see the effort of sectors of American society to change Washington's policy toward Cuba, but also indicates that there has always been in the U.S. certain interest groups that no positive step in bilateral relations with the island.
These powerful industries have found ways to scare or intimidate those who make the decisions. Often distort reality

Julian Domingo R. said...

U.S. foreign policy is applied an old maxim that leaders should not compromise on the embargo on Cuba half a century without achieving something in return by the Castro government. So when the administration of President Barack Obama recently announced that more Americans would travel to the island and send more money in cash, plus other minor changes, the decision was greeted with the question: Why now?

Tony Martinez said...

The embargo is an anachronism of the cold war that ended with the Soviet Union's demise. It continues only for domestic political reasons. The embargo is hardly a bargaining chip, but an mutually destructive socioeconomic weapon to both the United States and Cuba. Consider simply the level of trade and commerce that will exist when this insanity ends in the U.S. and Cuba? The Cubans offered to negotiate with the Obama Administration, which it has never taken seriously. We are simply politically "afraid to engage" . If we want things to change in Cuba, it will come through American influence, not American interference. The Government of Cuba uses the embargo as a justification for its repression -- to protect its sovereignty. If we want democracy in the world, we need to be a shining example of it, not hypocritical - one standard for Cuba and another for other countries.

Keing Dublog said...

At a time when Cubans are changing the system fundamentally, is a good idea to have more involvement, more Americans traveling to Cuba and more opportunities to learn from each other