Reaching Out to the Cuban People

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
April 14, 2009
Woman Waves U.S. and Cuban Flags in Miami

Yesterday, the White House announced a series of changes in U.S. policy to reach out to the Cuban people.

The Obama administration announced a series of changes in U.S. policy to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future. In taking these steps to help bridge the gap among divided Cuban families and promote the freer flow of information and humanitarian items to the Cuban people, President Obama is working to fulfill the goals he identified both during his presidential campaign and since taking office.

All who embrace core democratic values long for a Cuba that respects basic human, political and economic rights of all its citizens. President Obama believes these measures will help make that goal a reality.

Specifically, the President has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to take the needed steps to:

• Lift all restrictions on transactions related to the travel of family members to Cuba.

• Remove restrictions on remittances to family members in Cuba.

• Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.

• License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into roaming service agreements with Cuba’s telecommunications service providers.

• License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.

• License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba.

• Authorize the donation of certain consumer telecommunication devices without a license.

• Add certain humanitarian items to the list of items eligible for export through licensing exceptions.

Read more about these steps in the White House fact sheet.

Comments

Comments

UrsulaOaks
April 14, 2009

Ursula O. writes:

The action taken by President Obama yesterday is an important step forward. NAFSA: Association of International Educators is urging the administration to also remove restrictions on educational travel. Reviewing U.S. policy on Cuba and rescinding restrictions on the ability of the American people and the Cuban people to engage with one another is yet another sign of the president's commitment to a new era of U.S. global leadership and engagement with the international community.

Jason
|
West Virginia, USA
April 14, 2009

Jason in West Virginia writes:

This is so aweome! I love this!

Syrian P.
|
Syria
April 14, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

About time you start distinguishing between the Cuban people and the Comis dictator regime. If the Cubans were willing to risk assured death in escapes, and they did, then you should have determined they are terribly suffering and longing for freedom. Why has the U.S. waited so long since the collapse of the Soviets to free Cuba and other dictatorial nations, obviously, it was not in the economic interest of the ruling elites who strived to promote false, deceptive slogans about freedom and democracy when in fact it was just that, false deceptive slogans.

Rosemary
|
New Jersey, USA
April 14, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

This is about as wrong-headed as can be in dealing with a government that has suppressed all freedom of speech, religion, movement, and choice for 50 years. Happy Birthday, Cuba. You are now approved in our book!

This does nothing to validate a stance we have held for all of those years:
*That this repressive regime and all it represents is wrong;
*That people should have a right to choose their leader and form of government;
*That people should not be imprisoned and treated cruelly for voicing an opinion;
*That everyone should have the right to travel freely;
*That people have a right to earn and to buy without rationing and coupons.

If you think this is fantastic, try buying meat, eggs, gasoline, beer, milk only when you have a coupon and at that only a limited amount.

People have suffered severe hardship and died trying to escape Cuba. You must also remember that it is not the U.S. that decides, under this protocol, whether you actually get to go there. The Cuban government issues (or not) the visa. If the regime has something against you, you still don't get to go there. Too bad it's too late for you to ask Celia Cruz who was refused re-entry when her mother was dying.

The Castro brothers are not our friends and pandering to them this way actually funnels American money into their system and supports it.

There is nothing awesome about this. It is a rubber stamp on a regime that should have been replaced many, many years ago, and nothing will be gained from this except more years of one-party communist rule of the Cuban people who deserve to be free of the Iron Curtain around that country. This will not lift it.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
April 14, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Rosemary in New Jersey -- I understand your stance on this issue. However, nothing has been accomplished in the last 50 years and a new approach is greatly needed. I live in a state that is deeply divided by this situation. We must realize that the 60's are over. We can not solve the "Cuban" problem unless we try new ways. We must reach out and take a risk on this issue. And as far as U.S. dollars are concerned, everyone who lives here in Florida knows that for years HUGE amounts of dollars have been going to Cuba through the "back door" policy. We must open up trade, tourism, and communication with Cuba in order to help the Cuban people. We deal with other totalitarian countries, don't we? We need to also deal with Cuba. This is in our best interest,and in the best interest of the Cuban people.

Rosemary
|
New Jersey, USA
April 14, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

@ Susan in Florida -- Union City, NJ has more Cubans than Havana. I am not exactly on the margins of this argument. A new approach may be called for, but this is not the one. This helps a handful of Cuban people: The Castro brothers and their cronies. This does nothing but change Cuba from what it has been from January 1959 through today into Haiti under the Duvaliers, a dictatorship still, but one we talk to, can visit, and consider benign. The Castros my be old and getting feeble, but they are far from benign, and this in no way really helps the Cuban people at all. It just gives some Americans another place to go on vacation and other Americans a chance to feel good and sing Kumbaya.

Patricia S.
|
New York, USA
April 15, 2009

Patricia S. in New York writes:

Another wrong-headed decision by the Obama Administration. The Cuban people - 0 - the Castro brothers - 1 - they are the only winners.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
April 15, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Rosemary in New Jersey -- I promise you, it does not make the Cubans in Florida, or anyone else for that matter, "feel good". But it does give us a chance to deal with what is basically a stalemate. It is a hopeful sign when our government begins to face some of these very difficult situations with realism rather than the "our way or the highway" mentality that we have experienced for years now. No one is singing Kumbaya, unless it is all the European tourists who visit Cuba each year, spending lots of Euros. No one here thinks the Castro brothers are "friends" but we need to deal with this problem now.

Rosemary
|
New Jersey, USA
April 15, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

Thank you, Patricia S.!

This will come back to bite us. Sleep with dogs, wake up with fleas. Just sayin'.

Zharkov
|
United States
April 15, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Collective guilt, and group punishment, such as banning entire nations from trade when it is primarily their leaders who are violating human rights, has always been wrong. Of course, the imposition of collective guilt has always been a hallmark of oppressive governments.

In group punishment, the innocent are punished along with the guilty. The concepts of collective guilt and mass punishment are contrary to American ideals of individual responsibility and are remarkably un-American.

The Cuban embargo has punished the entire Cuban nation, including those who left Cuba to escape Castro's thugs, rather than target the leadership itself.

Spain has taken a different course. In the case of alleged American war crimes for torturing 5 Spanish citizens at Guantanamo, Spanish prosecutors are preparing indictments of Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and others whom they allege are directly responsible for such crimes, instead of declaring a Spanish embargo against the United States.

This is the preferred method of holding individual heads of state responsible for their inhumane acts, rather than punish a nation of innocent women and children with embargos.

The very concept of attempting to lay a seige against a whole nation of people seems inherently unjust, somewhat arrogant, and completely wrong.

Embargos punish the innocent in order to punish the guilty, which is something one might expect from a Nazi government, but not ours. We should not starve innocent people in order to make the guilty obey.

It is time to lift all restrictions against Cuba, but not necessarily against their government. There is no reason why the leaders of the Castro government should have our permission to speak at the U.N. as long as they restrict free emigration from Cuba.

There is no reason why we cannot restrict Cuban government officials from access to America, or indict them for crimes against Cuban people. There is no justification for stopping Cubans from sueing the Castro brothers personally for damages arising from violations of human rights.

It is time that people held their leaders personally responsible for crimes against the people, rather than have America punish Cubans for Cuban government policies over which most Cubans had little or no control.

DSM
|
Iraq
April 15, 2009

D.S.M. in Iraq writes:

We should consider what this means to those who have been without for so many years; lacking a representative government, essential services, food, family, tradition, roots, mobility, information, and most of all -- freedom.

Information will empower the people of Cuba who have been in a vacuum for 50 years. The free and open flow of information is precisely the type of re-engagement that is needed. We are uniquely positioned to serve as facilitators for opening channels of communication.

This policy will stimulate a productive dialogue between two societies that have been separated by a narrow strip of water and a wide gap in terms of ideology. Those that will benefit most from this are the Cuban people who will have an opportunity to share their experiences and be a part of the global community after so many years.

Clearly, this will also be a tremendous economic opportunity for those who are uniquely qualified to implement this initiative.

Properly executed, this policy will be a catalyst for democracy (politics & governance), civil society, commercial reforms, and economic development.

So often, we take our rights for granted and argue with each other every step of the way. When all of us get on the same team with this we will succeed by doing the right thing. We will know we did things right when a new leader is democratically elected and Cuba becomes a free and open society.

vivian
|
Florida, USA
April 15, 2009

Vivian in Florida writes:

ITS ABOUT TIME. we can not promote democracy in another country, if we do not respect it here. our forfathers fought and died for us to have essential freedoms. limiting were i go an when to see a family member, is what a communist country would do. NOT THE UNITED STATES. i agree that we, the people, are the best ambassadors to freedom and our country. good move, but should have gone further, we, the people, can make more of an impact in cuba, than 50 years of failed policy.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
April 15, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Zharkov, D.S.M. in Iraq and Vivian in Florida. Well said. The embargo has never helped to free the Cuban people. It has only helped Castro and company to justify their oppressive policies. Castro has always pointed to the embargo as an example of "American imperialism". We are hurting the Cuban people, not the Castro brothers. After a failed 50 year policy, why not try a new approach?

Susan
|
Florida, USA
April 16, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

One last thought on the Cuba situation. We are truly hypocrites when we can justify our "open" political and trade relationships with China but continue to use Cuba's human rights issues as an excuse for not dealing with them. We have even opened trade and talks with Vietnam -- who not so long ago was our enemy, and killed at least 58 thousand American soldiers. How many Americans have the Cubans killed? Point being, let's stop being hypocrites. How about really trying to help the Cuban people instead of just "lecturing" their leaders, which has NOT worked. Nor has the embargo!!

vivian
|
Florida, USA
April 20, 2009

Vivian in Florida writes:

If one of the obstacles is Cubas high fees for remittances, let me remind everyone, that it is U.S. policy that remittances must be delivered in U.S. dollars (which Cubans cannot use). These dollar remittances are then exchanged by the family member in Cuba, at the bank. The bank charges the rate of exchange and a 10% penalty for changing dollars. So here is a simple solution, why not let the Cuban people receive the currency they actually can use, and this will eliminate the 10% fee. Or ask the Cubans to allow their residents to use U.S. dollars at their currency. (Seems like this one is a bit more difficult). Just a thought.

Hal
|
Washington, USA
April 20, 2009

Hal in Washington writes:

Well let's see. We can't discriminate on the basis of race, creed, sex, or sexual orientation. But apparently it's okay to discriminate on the basis of ethnic background.

go
|
Canada
May 5, 2009

G. writes:

what happens when communism is enforced

MARCK
August 13, 2009

Marck writes:

MY name is Marck,I lived in cuba opressed for 16yrs of my live,I saw my father suffering for not having any money to provide food for our family,the communist denied him a job simply because he fought the communist system and was imprisonned by the communist for ten years of his life.I was segregated from attending any college because I was the son of a political prisoner,Thanks to Ronald Reagan I came to America,Then I Knew the real meaning of freedom of speech,I love America so much that when the war started in Iraq,I resigened from my job,joined the us army to fight a similar tyrant,Saddam Hussein and I Fought in Iraq,because I hate opression,in 2008 I went to fight in IraQ again, I just returned from Iraq on july 20th 2009 and guess what,communist,like nazism,and baathism can not be beaten by mere talk,those systems are based on opression and tyrans laugh at any sign of weakness,Cuban communist are the most hypocritical people you will encounter in life,instead of helping them,how about to sanctioned them,how about to show their crimes all over the world so people see the truth about cuban communism,ask cuban people how many of their fellow commrades are dying in the communist prisons or ask cuban how many cubans are killed every day by firing squads.

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