Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama kills regulations on Cuban American travel, remittances

President Obama is delivering on his campaign promise to end restrictions on Cuban American travel and remittances, or as one of his aides said, he is taking “the U.S. government out of the business of regulating contact between members of separated Cuban families.”

He is also repealing President Bush’s absurd restrictions on the contents of gift parcels, and opening up regulations to allow greater access to telecommunications. Lots of details remain to be filled in.

Herald story here.


Anonymous said...

who hooooooooooo! This is moral thing to do! Cuban american family from both sides of the sea thank OB dearly!

leftside said...

They really went out of their way to frame this shift as part of the same old same old. The rhetorical goal is "changing Cuba" by "opening up space" between the Cuban people and Govt. They now expect Cuba to "respond meaningfully" to this minor correction of a Bush-era mean spirited anti-family policy.

This prioritization of one class of Americans (Cuban) with full rights and the rest of us, without, needs to be condemned. So does the policy of having 2 sets of Cubans - Communist Party member and non. Did that policy work well in Iraq? I thought I might be able to send some "humanitarian" goods to my doctor friend in Havana now - but he is/was a UJC member. This Administration wants to have it both ways.

I am glad to see that US telecom companies will be able to connect the undersea fiber optic internet cable b/w the US and Cuba. But the stuff about allowing US satellite TV to operate in Cuba seems designed to provoke and ignorant of the fact that a key issue for Cuba is the presence of US propaganda (TV Marti) that is allowed to illegally penetrate the country via Direct TV.

"Certain telecom devices" will be allowed to be donated also. That is good - but it is too bad that the trouble of a "license exemption" will be needed. I hope that all groups wanting to donate to Cuba are treated the same. But it does not look like that is in the cards, as the prohibitions will remain on sending anything to charitable, religious or educational groups "administered or controlled by the Cuban Government." Seems as how the US can create a definition to include most of those groups that way, the vast majority of aid will still be banned. The real attempt here seems to be to create a class of organizations dependent on donations from the US.

The "Fact Sheet" and the Briefing both included calls for Cuba to reduce the "usurious" fees Cuba charges on all dollar exchanges. How absurd. The 10% fee is for changing dollars into Cuban currency (not remittances directly) and is hardly usurious. Never-mind, that in Miami, private businesses take up to 40% of the total amount as a "processing fee" ($20 on a $50 remittance).

And jeez, Obama needs a new spokesman. that guy is clueless. He didn't even know that Cuba is not in the OAS and won't be present at the Americas Summit. .

Anonymous said...

Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, leftside - you take such a positive development and spin it any way possible to slam it. Obama could announce an end to all travel restrictions tomorrow and you'd be considering it an attack.

Put a cork in it already. It's friggin' old, man. Your rhetoric belongs in the same dark and forgotten corner as the crap some of the right-wing Cubans spit out.

Good news for Cuban families!

The 10 percent surcharge on U.S. dollars is still as lame and ludicrous as it always was but, hey - just travel with Canadian currency when you visit abuelo y abuela. Works for me.

Anonymous said...

very good news, obama delivering on his promise. of course there is all the attendant political bs; re demands what cuba has to do etc, but i really see that just playing to the crowd and taking it slow. he has to still toe that old line, but the main point is the restrictions are over for Cuban-Americans and that will put tremendous pressure to end all travel restrictions, and then the embargo will come tumbling down.
good news for cubans as well as it will mean the end to the idiot bush policies, once and for all.

there will be restrictions and conditions and usual American demands, and leftside has some points. but you have to walk first, take these steps that will turn promise into reality and then all the political rhetoric will be long forgotten as the next step in lifting the siege takes place -- ending the travel restrictions for all americans. and i think obama knows that, it will be harder now to justify continuation of the restrictions for americans when there is UNlimited travel rights for cuban-americans. especially with the bills coming through congress the timing looks good.
let the details work themselves out, they always do, and for 50 years the cuban side has been hearing the same old gusano crap re cuba has to do this and that before anything happens. well it is finally the american side pushing the gusanos aside and moving on with things.
this is simply the preliminary stage, necessary but not most important, to ending all travel restrictions. then getting rid of the embargo.

♥♥♥♥♥ Jennifer™® ♥♥♥♥♥ said...

your blog is feel good

Anonymous said...

This is not minor as someone above stated. THat person obviously has no idea how many Cuban Americans travelled to Cuba before Bush's restriction. Even now there are multiple flights daily, all full. There will be a much bigger flood of people now, bigger than under Clinton. Each of those people pays exhorbitant fees for visas, for renewals of their Cuban passports. It's a huge money maker for the Cuban government. It is not minor.

Asking for something in return may be politics. But it is a necessary politics. Even people affiliated with the government in Havana (Raul Castro's daugher for instance) have called for some of things that have been suggested Obama should ask for (elimination of exit and entry visas for Cubas, for instance).

Isolation has failed clearly. It is immoral, unjustified, and counterproductive. But so is pretending that it is only the right wing in Miami that spews venom and that Havana can do no wrong. Completely counterproductive. And completely against what a majority of the CUban population believes.

I'm thrilled Obama made these important changes. I hope he lifts the embargo as well. But people in Cuba also very clearly need for the government in Havana to respond in kind.