We can quibble about the estimates but all agree: it’s a significant amount of money.
What is the impact? Some goes to the government, some goes to individuals. Some of the money that goes to the government supports services for the public, and some that goes to individuals ends up with the government, through taxes or mark-ups at hard-currency stores.
A substantial segment of the Cuban-American community – about ten planeloads a day out of Miami – could care less about sorting this out. Contrary to the views of those they elect to Congress, they send their money, buy their plane tickets, go to Cuba, take their families out to restaurants, take them to stay in tourist hotels, and help them as best they can.
They act as regular immigrants, but they elect legislators who consider themselves exiles.
When these legislators talk about Cuba policy, they don’t take a sanctions-begin-at-home approach. Has anyone ever seen them try to persuade their own constituents to stay at home, not to travel to Cuba, not to support such a huge flow of hard currency to Cuba?
The concern about hard currency kicks in now, when President Obama plans to open up travel – partially – for the rest of Americans.
Do as we say, not as our constituents do.