With the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s decision not to proceed with Cuba travel legislation before the House began a month-long recess, the only remaining possibility for that legislation is the post-election “lame duck” Congressional session.
Which is to say that the chances of passage in the current Congress now approach zero. Reform of Cuba policy will now have to come from the Obama Administration, and it’s likely to be more gradual and piecemeal than the complete removal of travel restrictions contemplated by Congress.
The Administration had all but announced a liberalization of travel regulations last summer, but that action seems to have been set aside in a case of pre-election jitters.
Meanwhile, Cuba continues along its path, releasing political prisoners and embarking on new economic reforms. No one would argue that these moves resolve all human rights issues or fix Cuba’s economy, but they are certainly positive. And they are in the direction that President Obama encouraged – which increases the likelihood that Washington will react, the current political timidity notwithstanding.
Julia Sweig examines these issues in an article in the International Herald Tribune, arguing that America’s low level of engagement at a turning point in Cuba may suit Cuba’s political leadership, but it doesn’t serve our interests.