Thursday, October 21, 2010

Obama's Cuba policy

From an address by Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela, October 9:

Cuba is another case in point. Since taking office, President Obama has made clear his commitment to supporting the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their own future. The President also laid out his openness to direct engagement when he said, and I quote, "we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people."

During the first 20 months of the Obama administration, we have begun to make progress on the vision that the President has outlined. First, we have taken measures to increase contact between separated families and to promote the free flow of information to, from, and within Cuba. We believe that the reunification of the divided Cuban family is a positive step toward building a better future for Cuba. In addition, we have engaged Cuban authorities on key bilateral matters like migration and direct mail service. In the wake of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, the United States worked with Cuba to expedite the arrival of critical supplies to victims and survivors of the worst natural disaster in the modern history of the Western Hemisphere.

We have also increased artistic and cultural exchanges between our countries, consistent with our long-standing support for freedom of expression. The "Peace Without Borders" concert in Havana organized by Juanes last year and performances in the United States by noted Cuban artists such as Carlos Varela demonstrate in concrete terms our desire to promote greater communication between the people of the United States and Cuba. In 2009, there was an 80 percent increase in travel licenses issued to U.S. persons under the public performances, athletic, and other competitions and exhibitions category; a 25% increase in religious licenses; and a 16% increase in licenses issued for academic travel to Cuba. Additionally, non-immigrant visa issuances for Cuban citizens have more than doubled in the last year, including visas for more Cubans to travel to the United States for cultural academic and professional exchange. This engagement has not generated overnight change, but it has advanced U.S. interests, and we are committed to continuously evaluating and refining our policies. We welcome the ongoing release of political prisoners, and note that Cuba is undergoing profound economic changes that we hope will improve the lives of the Cuban people.


Anonymous said...

Zoe Valdes le declara la guerra a la disidencia

Anonymous said...

obama has done very little to move towards real change with cuba; despite what is happening in the island currently.
and in typical fashion -- on the one hand Obama supports the Cuban people's desire to freely determine their own future. And then right away its the admission to advance American interests is somehow conflated with freedom for the cuban people.
Same old, same old. Maybe, for once, an american president should come from the angle the cuban people have decided their own future, and continue to decide where it will lead. And leave the hypocrisy at home. As long as an American President presents his 'vision' of what progress will be; it will only be treated as the continued attempt to re-establish hegemony. It aint brain surgery, but it is dogma. Time for change.