Friday, December 12, 2008

Obama watch

The Obama Cuba policy is going to take time to define.

Obviously, the foundation will be the President-elect’s campaign statements (see here). Then there will be personnel decisions, the decisions on how to implement campaign promises, and the first-year decisions on all the moving parts of the policy, e.g. will the Obama Administration fund TV Marti?

But in the meantime, let’s take note of any straws in the wind. And if I miss some, send them in.

  • From the Times magazine piece discussed below, advisor Anthony Lake: “With the new Democratic majority in Congress, and some clear Cuban gestures on human rights, you could get changes to Helms-Burton.”

  • Here’s former congressional candidate and Miami-Dade Democratic chairman Joe Garcia speaking about the timing of travel and diplomatic initiatives, in El Nuevo Herald: “Obama has a good group of advisors and he is going to listen to them. The right to travel and remittances will be restored, but only remotely will there be an immediate opportunity to converse with Havana.”

  • And the Brazilian defense minister, recently in Washington, called for the end of the U.S. embargo as he made the rounds. According to this report in CubaEncuentro, Secretary Gates “did not say yes or no,” former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Cuba should “take the first step,” and there’s no report on the response from Obama’s soon-to-be national security advisor. The minister said to Gates, “After all these years of the embargo on Cuba, what have you got? Just two things: a poor country and a very proud people.”

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