Friday, September 4, 2009

Vamos pa' Cuba

Good for President Obama, and good for the Cuban American community. Thanks to yesterday’s new Treasury regulations, Cuban Americans can visit their family in Cuba as often as they like for as long as they like, and they can send them as much money as they like.

A humane step, long overdue.

And the definition of family, narrowed by President Bush, is now wide open. Treasury’s definition: “For purposes of this part, the term close relative used with respect to any person means any individual related to that person by blood, marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from that person or from a common ancestor with that person.”

The regulations also define the telecom business opportunities that President Obama announced last April. American companies will be allowed to negotiate satellite or fiber optic links to Cuba, roaming agreements so U.S. cell phones can work in Cuba, and satellite radio and television service.

Radio Marti says the measures “ease the United States sanctions against the Castro regime.” An Obama Administration official described them to the Herald as follows:

“This gets the U.S. government out of the business of regulating the separation of Cuban families…The real question here now is the Cuban government. The Cuban government likes to blame the limited access to information on limited bandwidth, and they blame that on the United States. After these regulations, to the extent there is limited flow of information in Cuba, it will be very clear that those limitations are coming from the Cuban government.”

Fair enough, I suppose.

But the new rules also create an odd, and I would argue unsustainable, situation where the U.S. government has created a special privilege for one class of Americans, those with relatives in Cuba.

Cuban Americans can now travel virtually without restriction – for weekends, for tourism, for special occasions. Soon we’ll see a surge in Miami-Havana charter flights and images of Cuban Americans bringing their relatives to Cuban hotels, since Cubans are now allowed to stay in those hotels. For some, the ability to send unlimited remittances means that their loved ones won’t have to worry about basic needs. For others, it is an opportunity to invest by sending money to a relative to buy tools, to expand a house, or even to buy a new one with extra space for relatives who will visit now and retire there some time in the future.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country will remain under Cold War rules governing those activities, based on policies that designate Cuba an “enemy” country to which the flow of hard currency should be strictly limited.

The contradictory policy is now a perfect reflection of the contradictory politics of Cuban Miami.

Every two years, Cuban Americans vote in Congressional elections to sustain U.S. sanctions to punish the Castro regime. Every two hours, they will be filling planes headed to Havana, because those sanctions don’t apply to them.

Un-freakin’-real, as they say.


MANO said...

the people voting in Congressional elections punishing the Castro regime and the people filling up those planes may both call themselves Cubans, but truly there´s very little that links them...they´re almost two different versions of the Cuban national identity, whatever that means...

Anonymous said...

the only point is the continued situation that allows one group of Americans to have travel rights over another is simply unconstitutional and illegal. it is time to challenge this inequality in the courts.
how anyone can support the embargo or any other american policy against cuba is beyond rational thinking.
these exiles, so many who supposedly left for political reasons, can visit their home country unfettered while average americans cant.
and if they left cuba for economic reasons, then the embargo should end because it was a partial cause of the economic difficulties that led them to leave.

cuba policy has never been foreign policy, only national. it's time to end this farce.

Karamchand said...

Para demostrar que un tipo es asesino, lo suelto con cámara en mano y filmo el asesinato, en esos términos es la declaración del ¿oficial? (no debe ser la traducción, pero no doy ahora en mi mente con la correcta o adecuada). La limitación, la prohibición de acceso a información bajo la dictadura cubana existe "per se", es palpable y a la vista, no me parece que la relajación en las medidas por parte del gobierno norteamericano ponga en evidencia algo que ya está en evidencia. Como he escrito, otras administraciones demócratas han tomado el mismo curso con iguales resultados nulos. Reciente está el show de la OEA, luego de ceder, ceder, ceder, al final, cuando no había impedimento o traba real para que Cuba formara parte de la OEA, la dictadura cubana respondió con un no categórico y fin del asunto. Aquellos que viven en democracia olvidan que los dictadores y la claque circundante, operan bajo intereses estúpidos y ajenos al pueblo, por tener resueltas sus vidas en el aspecto material; es el pueblo quien sufre las consecuencias; incluídas las del embargo, lo que sigue para los "vivos"( caramba, sería más fácil un botón para las negritas, etc), como he dicho aquí y explicado, soy partidario del embargo o bloqueo por un problema de justicia, sufro el crudo bloqueo bloqueo del gobierno cubano y las posibles consecuencias del norteamericano, pero entiendo en justicia, que el derecho asiste en precedencia e importancia a aquellos perjudicados por las confiscaciones de la dictadura y otras medidas por parte de ella, perjudiciales a ciudadanos norteamericanos en particular y de otras naciones, incluído los cubanos. Muchos olvidan los límites propios y los derechos de los demás, priorizando los propios, como aquellos norteamericanos que quieren viajar a Cuba e invertir porque es su derecho, precisamente en ello radica vivir en democracia, que aun cuando parezca un derecho individual, la justicia prima sobre ellos.

Anonymous said...

For those who wish to travel back to Cuba to visit those gran pendejos, that escoria that fails to revolt, to fight and incite war for the rights they will only achieve and recieve through civil war, you are also great pendejos and communist sympathizers. Take a good and hard look at those who will be traveling: uneducated and depraved fools who left the island decades after finally acknowledging the failings of the revolucion; yet now they choose to return and continue fueling the Castro machine. You spit on the US, the only country that gave you anything. For what?--Nostalgia. If you spend a cent in that country, if you give a cent to a relative, it is the same as if your are filtering money into Fidel's swollen pockets. Is it not? For Chrissake, it has been fifty years. You must truly admire Fidel and his achievements, and you must be blindly infatuated and masochistic to re-live what you have endured on that island, whether your tarry is temporary or not. For those Cubans who wish to travel back, may you have the most unfortunate and unpleasant of times during your vacationing. May you act orderly and accordingly, just like Fidel taught you years ago, just like he knew you'd come back and help fill his pockets. And Fidel wins again. To hell with you filthy, degenerate cowards. It is moments like these that I realize how much I wish I was never Cuban, only American. And for the American tourists who visit Cuban beach resorts, may a great shark eat you alive as you stroke Fidel's great beard.

Anonymous said...

so much hate.. i'm sure there are millions in cuba that wish you weren't cuba. if you in your warped mind continue to hate, fine, but don't you dare tell me where to go or what to think -- that's for the comer mierdas in little havana.
after 50 years you are pitiful.

The Hate said...

I never told you where you can and cannot go, or what to think. That is Fidel's duty. And hasn't he done such a wonderful job in doing so, don't you think? Do not forget that he is your comandante, your jefe, so you must capitulate. You will do well by him, I can see that quite well. You are not Cuban, I can also discern that quite well. Simply another ill-informed American. And now you have made me ashamed of being American. What a day, don't you think? Though I did not tell you where you can and cannot go, I am certain you know where I'd like to send you.

The Hate

Anonymous said...

"The Cuban government likes to blame the limited access to information on limited bandwidth, and they blame that on the United States. After these regulations..., it will be very clear that those limitations are coming from the Cuban government.”

This ignorant comment is typical of fascists. Don't they know that abolishing the genocidal internet embargo is the last and WICKEDEST phase of Imperialism?

(I have to go now. Lefty has called for his smelling salts.)

Anonymous said...

Phil Peters appears to be disingenuous when he argues for the extension of the travel ban to Americans without relatives in Cuba. Some facts to consider follow:

1. Cubans who live abroad must purchase a Cuban passport for $350 or 183 euros to be able to travel to Cuba if they left Cuba after 1971. If they left Cuba before 1971, they must pay for a special entry permit worth $130 or 80 euros. The entry permit is good for a 30 days stay and they can be extended for another 30 days. The above fees do not include transaction fees of around $20 or 20 euros. Americans who were born in Cuba and who left Cuba after 1971 MUST travel to Cuba using a Cuban passport.

2. A US citizen who was not born in Cuba traveling to Cuba only pays $50 for his visa. A Spanish citizen who was not born in Cuba only pays 25 euros to travel to Cuba. There may be additional fees for those who do not request their visas in person.

3. The Cuban government reserves the right to exclude from Cuba any Cuban-born person for any reason.

4. The Cuban government does not recognize any consular protection for a Cuban-born person who is a citizen of another country . This puts Cuban-Americans traveling in Cuba at risk of arrest for the same reasons that any other Cuban citizen could be arrested: non-sanctioned political expression or activity.

Does anyone know of any other country that charges its citizens more to travel to their birth-country than to foreigners? Traveling to Cuba for those who "permanently emigrated" (a Cuban legal term) is fraught with risks for them.

American citizens who travel to Cuba should keep in mind that many activities that they take for granted in the USA would put them in prison in Cuba, and that the consular aid that they would receive is not guaranteed. Many an American who has traveled in Cuba had very bad experiences with State Security. Oscar Lewis is a case that comes to mind. For details of his case, one can read the prologue to his books Four Men: Living the Revolution, and Four Women: Living the Revolution.

Having said all that, bon voyage and caveat emptor!

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

Mr. Peters, your Cuban Blog Site is truly the best! I have for years been amazed how a group of foreigners can deprive me of my right to travel freely! Communist China now is taking over where the USA should be.
They are infiltrating South America and Cuba is totally in their control.
Contrats to the expatriates for doing exactly what is in the worst interest for you and those of us who lived here a bit longer than you. Disgraceful and now dangerous!

Anonymous said...

Now anon has re-invented himself as a John Bircher. I think the last post was supposed to be a compliment, Peters. Not sure you want it.


Anonymous said...

I thank god for obama and the new regulations for family visits. My family in Cuba are estatic that they can see their daughter and grandkids as a human right.

Us government should not be in business in regulating family ties, regardless of cuba's regime. I thought the bircher/McVeigh/old cuban american type are against government regulation>>>>??? yet they want to regulate the most personal type of activity - visiting family. unreal.

Anonymous said...

May you enjoy bathing with a bucket. May you enjoy spending American dollars on your family that has remained in Cuba for the fifty years of the Revolucion. May you have the most unfortunate and unpleasant of times during your vacationing.

The Hate

Anonymous said...

"My family in Cuba are estatic that they can see their daughter and grandkids as a human right."

Now if only my family inside Cuba had the human right to travel inside their own country, without an Apartheid-style internal passport, to visit their daughter and grandkids in Havana!

Anonymous said...

LOL, now the right-wing Cuban who vote for Bush, Palin, and Cheney will have to pretend that they did not when they visit the island of Cuba. Just another thing they have to pretend not to be. Right wing Cubans are ashamed that they are not anglo, they are not American, and that they speak Spanish. They run from their Cuban heritage by embracing right wing racism. Now just wait until the youth of Cuba get internet connection, and begin to read their brethen in America right wing websites. I doubt many will be able to set foot inside Cuba.

Anonymous said...

and its those right wingnuts who have maintained the embargo and travel restrictions for real americans, while they come and go to cuba as they please now. what a bunch of disgusting hypocrites

Anonymous said...

You are sadly misinformed about the Cuban-American identity, that is, those who will be traveling to Cuba now that the travel restrictions have been lifted. Whomever posted the above comments is overtly non-Cuban, and, to me, un-American. First and foremost, right-wing Cuban exiles will not be traveling to Cuba, unless it is to assisinate Cuban officials, bomb tourist beach resorts, and put a flame to the cowardice asses of the Cuban pueblo. Those Cubans traveling to Cuba are shameless, walking contradictions, who departed from the island years, decades after the Revolucion (they are simply going back to stroke Fidel's beard). Hence the social fracture among Cubans. To those Americans (veritably un-Americans from a political standpoint) who wish to vacation in Cuba, investing American dollars on supporting the legs of the reigning communist regime, may you be sipping a mojito when the roof of your resort caves in. It is after unfortunate incidents like this that travel bans are once again imposed. As always, abajo con Fidel. Viva la contra- Revolucion.

The Hate