Friday, April 4, 2008

Administration reacts to reforms

If Cuba makes changes that happen to address U.S. concerns, even partially, is the Administration prepared to take a partial “yes” for an answer?

Yes, and no, depending on who is talking.

Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon says that recent changes in Cuba, such as the end of prohibitions on cell phones and hotel stays, are “positive” but that “faster and deeper” changes are needed, Notimex reports. Shannon suggests that the Cuban government free all political prisoners and begin “a dialogue with its own people.”

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, meanwhile, says the changes are “cynical.” The ban on hotel stays used to be a staple of Gutierrez’ speeches, however, such as in February 2007: “And the resorts, which cater to foreign tourists, are off limits for most Cuban nationals – in essence, a ‘tourism apartheid’ that reinforces the repression of the Cuban people.” Or last September, when he asked rhetorically when Cubans will be allowed to visit “any hotels or resorts or other tourist areas they wish in their own country.”

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