Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama Gets One Right

There's one good way to knock off a dying communist regime -- let subversive capitalists nail its coffin shut with commerce. The best possible outcome of Obama's action to let Americans travel to Cuba and send money to suffering Cubans is the distress it will cause Fidel. He will spend his dying days watching the 12 million inmates living on his island prison embrace every capitalist opportunity that slips onto the island as Americans jup over to Havana and elsewhere.

One of the biggest real estate booms of the 21st Century will occur in Cuba as its citizens are finally positioned to get everything Fidel had denied them for 49 years. Major League Baseball will get the boost it needs from the talent living in Cuba. Maybe the eventual fall of Fidel's dictatorship will lead to the arrival of a major league team in Havana. At the very least, a lot of spring training will return to the island.

Obama to allow travel, money transfers to Cuba

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is allowing Americans to make unlimited trips and money transfers to family in Cuba and easing other restrictions Monday to usher in a new era of openness toward the island nation ruled by communists for 50 years.

With the changes, Obama aims to lessen Cubans' dependence on the Castro regime, hoping that will lead them to demand progress on political freedoms, the official said. About 1.5 million Americans have relatives on the island nation that turned to communist rule in 1959 when Fidel Castro seized control.

"There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans," Obama said in a campaign speech last May in Miami, the heart of the U.S. Cuban-American community. "It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime."

Other steps taken Monday include expanding the things allowed in gift parcels being sent to Cuba, such as clothes, personal hygiene items, seeds, fishing gear and other personal necessities.

The administration also will begin issuing licenses to allow telecommunications and other companies to provide cell and television services to people on the island, and to allow family members to pay for relatives on Cuba to get those services, the official said.

Last May, former President George W. Bush announced a new policy that people living in the United States could include cell phones in gift parcels sent to Cubans. At the time, Bush aides said that U.S. residents could pay for the cell service attached to phones they send.

Francisco Hernandez, head of the exile group the Cuban American National Foundation, was once a staunch supporter of travel restrictions but supported Obama's announcement, saying he hopes it will inspire both sides to reconsider long-held positions.

It will help Cubans become more independent of the state "not only in economic terms but in terms of information, and contacts with the outside world," said Hernandez, who was imprisoned by the Cuban government for nearly two years after participating in the 1961 failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Miami travel agent Tesie Aral said her phone has been ringing nonstop in anticipation of the announcement, with a tenfold increase last Friday alone.

"People were already planning to travel more based on their ability to go every 12 months," said Aral, owner of ABC Charters. "Whether they can travel more frequently than that depends on the economy."

Also in that Miami speech nearly a year ago, Obama promised to depart from what he said had been the path of previous politicians on Cuba policy — "they come down to Miami, they talk tough, they go back to Washington, and nothing changes in Cuba."

"Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy," he said then. "This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century — of elections that are anything but free or fair; of dissidents locked away in dark prison cells for the crime of speaking the truth. I won't stand for this injustice, you won't stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba."

He also promised to engage in direct diplomacy with Cuba, "without preconditions" but with "careful preparation" and "a clear agenda."

Some lawmakers, backed by business and farm groups seeing new opportunities in Cuba, are advocating wider revisions in the trade and travel bans imposed after Castro came to power in Havana.

But the official said that Obama is keeping the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, arguing that that policy provides leverage to pressure the regime to free all political prisoners as one step toward normalized relations with the U.S.

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Blogger David B. Dancy said...

we've been knee deep in it with you guys for years. your shortsighted rationalizations do make me chuckle though.

3:34 PM  

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