Friday, January 14, 2011

President Obama's smart move

President Obama has finally decided to replace President Bush’s regulations governing American travel to Cuba, and he has a better idea: fewer restrictions, simpler regulations, and more citizen contact – but no tourism. (See details in the post below.)

My preference is for Americans to have the same freedom to travel to Cuba as they do to every other more-or-less imperfect country on the globe.

We don’t get that with President Obama’s action today, and many parts of his Cuba policy remain unchanged from those of President Bush, and counterproductive. But this is a big improvement, and it builds on the Administration’s complete removal of restrictions on Cuban-American travel and its easing of gift parcel rules.

The increase in contact between Americans and Cubans will expand the flow of information and ideas, and it will increase the income of Cubans in the country’s expanding private sector. It will expand American institutions’ contacts with Cuban counterparts – churches, universities, professional associations, and more. It is only common sense that American influence in Cuba will expand if we open doors rather than build barriers to citizen contact.

As a matter of policy, it is a big shift from the Bush approach, which limited citizen contact and emphasized government initiatives, government funding, and government programs that are often riddled with problems (see Sixto, Felipe and Gross, Alan).

The initiative here is on the part of private citizens and institutions acting on their own account, not following U.S. government instructions.

I applaud President Obama’s action. Here’s hoping that he continues to repair a policy that serves us particularly badly at a time of real change in Cuba.


Unknown said...

smart move to whom?

Anonymous said...

Marco Rubio and pals does not agree with you.....

Anonymous said...

so by bringing cuban policy back to what clinton was basically doing,this is some sort of forward motion? obama said cuba policy was a failure and needed to be changed. this is not change, just more of the same. end all travel restrictions for all americans.

Anonymous said...

As they say in Spanish, "Al buen hambre no hay pan duro."

The Cubans are starved for sweeping reform but embrace the sectoral measures Raúl offers. The vast majority of Americans who care about Cuba policy are so exhausted waiting to undo the damage done by eight years of Bush that we, too, embrace these modest steps by the Obama Administration.

Yes, we should embrace the measures; we should troubleshoot what's wrong in this Administration that such easy stuff took so long; we should aggressively pursue the people to people opportunities; and we should look for more ways to move our policy out of the Cold War.

Anonymous said...

what's wrong in this administration?
Obama is to scared the exile oligarchs will somehow punish him in 2012 - a if they wouldn't do that anyway, just as the Republicans in general will try to sabotage him in any way, on any issue, any time.
get over it, do the right thing and lead, man.

congress, as we all know, has long ago sold their collective conscience to the highest bidder, in this case the exile oligarchs.

for real change to happen
- either Obama grows a pair
- Congress miraculously rediscovers the merits of ethical arguments or
- substantial amounts of high quality crude oil are found in Cuban waters - which would bring Big Oil into the fight, and that's the one the exile mafia is going to lose.

Anonymous said...

I guess the big elephant in the room is the fact that this decision might be informed more by security concerns at having millions of refugees take to the ocean in view of the really nasty economic conditions that, if we are believe some of the cables posted in this blog, are looming over the Cuban economy...

Anonymous said...

Actually, given the fact that 1 in 2 American children experienced hunger in 2011 and not one Cuban child did - I wonder if reports of an exodus have the destinations mixed up?

We in Europe are sick of lame excuses: glacial is and has been the pace of progress on US policy development in relation to Cuba. And, at any time, even that is likely to be reversed by a couple of headbangers in Florida willing to sacrifice constitution, democracy or human rights to cling onto political power.

53 year old precocious children are an embarrassment everywhere, even when they are children of friends. When is the US going to grow up?