A Miami Herald Editorial Bull’s-Eye

No Irish bull. I thought Monday’s Miami Herald Editorial regarding the changes to the U.S. Cuba policy struck a perfect tone. An excerpt:

Considering the hoopla that preceded it, President Barack Obama’s decision to relax the rules governing travel and cash transfers to Cuba might seem to some like a daring new policy initiative — but it isn’t. Mr. Obama is making a marginal change in U.S. policy to signal that he is open to fundamental revision, but only if the Cuban government reciprocates — and that has always been the real stumbling block.

This is unlikely to happen soon, but we hope Mr. Obama’s decision will prompt other leaders in Latin America — who have been pressing for a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba — to call for Havana to mend its own ways. That, after all, is where the problem lies and where it must be addressed.

It must never be forgotten that the fundamental problem in U.S.-Cuba relations is the absence of freedom and civil liberties under the Castro regime. Until Cuba has a “normal” government — one that acts with the express consent of the governed — no U.S. government is likely to take steps toward “normalizing” relations.

Editorial referenced is copied in full at end of post.

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New Cuba rules send important signal

April 13, 2009

OUR OPINION: U.S. OPEN TO CHANGE, BUT ONLY IF HAVANA WILL RECIPROCATE

Considering the hoopla that preceded it, President Barack Obama’s decision to relax the rules governing travel and cash transfers to Cuba might seem to some like a daring new policy initiative — but it isn’t. Mr. Obama is making a marginal change in U.S. policy to signal that he is open to fundamental revision, but only if the Cuban government reciprocates — and that has always been the real stumbling block.

Policy reverts

Mr. Obama’s action is a commendable step, to be sure, but it needs to be put in perspective. In removing travel and gift restrictions for Cuban Americans, the president is reverting to rules that prevailed before a change imposed by President Bill Clinton. That came after the Cuban Air Force, in a cowardly act, shot down two unarmed Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996, killing four innocent men. President George W. Bush tightened the restrictions after Fidel Castro cracked down on dissidents in 2003, sending scores into prisons where most still remain.

This history and the strong feelings that surround Cuban policy ensure that any change in policy, no matter how slight, carries political and policy risks for any U.S. president. Mr. Obama has made a calculated decision that the move will be largely welcomed by Cuban Americans who want to see the U.S. government get out of the business of regulating how often they see their families.

This fulfills an Obama campaign pledge, and it may give Cubans living under the yoke of the Castro brothers more freedom to act independently, but it hardly amounts to a significant change as far as most Americans are concerned. They are still banned from visiting Cuba; and the trade embargo is still in place.

For any further change to occur, the Cuban government would have to make reciprocal gestures. Such as putting an end to the usurious fees and other obstacles it imposes on Cubans who want to leave. Such as freeing more political prisoners. Such as making the Internet more accessible to average Cubans. Such as ending the ”tourism apartheid” that keeps most Cubans from having contact with tourists.

It’s up to Havana

This is unlikely to happen soon, but we hope Mr. Obama’s decision will prompt other leaders in Latin America — who have been pressing for a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba — to call for Havana to mend its own ways. That, after all, is where the problem lies and where it must be addressed.

It must never be forgotten that the fundamental problem in U.S.-Cuba relations is the absence of freedom and civil liberties under the Castro regime. Until Cuba has a “normal” government — one that acts with the express consent of the governed — no U.S. government is likely to take steps toward “normalizing” relations.
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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