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U.S to Lift Some Cuba Travel Curbs
By LAURA MECKLER

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama plans to lift longstanding U.S. restrictions on Cuba, a senior administration official said, allowing Cuban-Americans to visit families there as often as they like and to send them unlimited funds.

The gesture, which could herald more openness with the Castro regime, will fulfill a campaign promise and follows more modest action in Congress this year to loosen travel rules.

The president has authority to loosen the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba on his own. The new rules will affect an estimated 1.5 million Americans who have family members in Cuba. Other Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba but only if they qualify through certain cultural, educational and other programs.

President Obama doesn't intend to call for lifting of the trade embargo against Cuba, which would require congressional action, nor is any specific diplomatic outreach contemplated, the official said.

Advocates for greater openness with Cuba said the move is significant in itself, signaling the Obama administration's willingness to take a fresh look at Cuba policy early in the presidency. However, others argue that overtures to Cuba as long as the Castros are in charge are not likely to foster democracy on the island.

The timing of the announcement is unclear, but several Cuba experts have speculated that it could come ahead of this month's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

It will come amid a series of international gestures by President Obama recently. This week, he moved to improve relations with Russia and told an audience in France on Friday that he was there to listen. Previously, he made an outreach to the people of Iran, sending a video message calling for a "new day" of relations between Washington and Tehran.

Last May in a campaign speech in Miami, Mr. Obama said, "It's time to let Cuban-Americans see their mothers and their fathers, their sisters and their brothers. It's time to let Cuban-American money make their families less dependent on the Castro regime."

The travel and remittance restrictions stem from the embargo, put in place in 1962 after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba. President Jimmy Carter allowed the travel ban to lapse.

But President Ronald Reagan reinstituted the travel ban with some exceptions. Under President Bill Clinton, Cuban-Americans could visit family once a year. President George W. Bush's policy was at one point even looser, but in 2004, he tightened the rules, allowing family trips once every three years, and narrowing the definition of who qualified as family. Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and grandparents qualified, but uncles, aunts and cousins did not.

This year, Congress approved legislation that had the effect of rolling back the Bush rules. As they now stand, family members -- broadly defined -- may visit once a year. The rules on how much money family members can send to Cuba, which date to 1978, have also changed with various administrations, but under Mr. Bush, funds were limited to a maximum of $300 per quarter for each household in Cuba receiving them. Remittances from the U.S. to Cuba now amount to around $700 million a year.

The expected action comes as cries grow louder in Congress to open U.S. policy toward Cuba. A bill introduced this year would allow unlimited travel for any purpose by Americans. Sen. Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote Mr. Obama this week calling for a change in U.S. posture toward Cuba and suggested that his administration open a dialogue about how to bring Cuba into the international community.

Mr. Obama has also been under pressure from Latin leaders to make a gesture toward Cuba to start rebuilding regional relations.

Reaction to the expected policy shift was mixed. "The status quo has been unnatural and immoral," said Julia Sweig, a Cuba specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations. "This will at least allow families to begin to normalize, if not the two countries."

Some Cuban-American circles have pressed to maintain U.S. restrictions because of their antipathy for Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, who replaced him as leader after Fidel became ill. "How do you help people speak out about human rights violations if you're basically extending the dictatorship abroad?" said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC.

—-- Jose de Cordoba and John Lyons contributed to this article.

© MBM

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quote:
Originally posted by Khalliqa:
I've never been.. I would like to visit..

I wonder what the feedback is like in Florida...


This embargo thing is about 'power'.

Power to control.

Cuban sugar which is of equal,or better, quality is significantly cheaper than U.S. sugar...which is subsidized by the U.S. government.

Our government supports the U.S. companies that controls the agricultural products of Caribbean nations.


PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
President Barack Obama plans to lift longstanding U.S. restrictions on Cuba, a senior administration official said, allowing Cuban-Americans to visit families there as often as they like and to send them unlimited funds.


Good! It's about time. I was hoping Bill Clinton would have terminated this punititve and meaningless cold war tactic more than fifteen years ago. It didn't happen. I was very disappointed. I knew Bush 43 would continue this archaic foreign policy that is no longer recognized nor supported among our allies (or the world for that matter). It is a counterproductive policy that only serves to punish the Cuban people. Outside of that rancorous fanatical anti-Castro minority lobby in Florida, I can't think of anyone who supports such a specious and pointless policy. It's embarrassing......
http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.co...dds_over_cuba_t.html

Floridians at odds over Cuba travel


Floridians in Congress, like many of their constituents, are divided over legislation to loosen limits on travel to Cuba.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor of Tampa said Cuban-Americans should be allowed to visit their families on the island at least once a year.
Kathy%20Castor.jpg
Kathy Castor

``Many of our neighbors are barred from visiting their sick and dying loved ones because of these burdensome restrictions,’’ Castor said this week. ``As Americans, we cannot allow our policies to bring more hardship to those we intend to help. As Floridians, we cannot expect the Cuban people, many of whom are family to us, to endure more pain.’’

The Tampa area she represents, like South Florida, has a large Cuban-American population.

This stance puts Castor at odds with fellow Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who is angry that the huge spending bill passed by the House on Wednesday includes a provision to ease travel rules for Cuban-Americans.

The Cuba provision would block funding to enforce limits imposed by then-President Bush in 2004, which allow Cuban-American visits only once every three years.

Wasserman Schultz, a member of the Appropriations Committee that drafted the bill, noted that the provision prevents enforcement only through this fiscal year, which ends in September.

She voted for the bill, which contains money for local projects she worked hard to include, but vowed to block future attempts to undercut the Bush rules.

The strict embargo policy is supposed to force Cuba to make political reforms.
Wasserman%20Schultz.jpg
Wasserman Schultz

``Cuba has not made any real change,’’ Wasserman Schultz said. ``They have not earned a relationship with the United States.’’

Castor and other critics of the embargo policy contend that it has not worked to bring democracy and human rights to Cuba. She has urged President Obama to make good on his campaign promise to ease the travel restrcitions.

``The restrictions have proven ineffective in altering the political situation and interfere with fundamental family relations and human rights,'' she wrote to Obama in December. ``By lifting the burdensome restrictions we can provide relief to families while maintainng pressure for human rights and change the island needs.''

The issue will surface again next week when the bill comes before the Senate.

Florida Senator Mel Martinez, who supports the embargo, threatens to use procedural moves to block consideration of the bill unless the Cuba provision is removed.
Congressional Black Caucus Members Visiting Cuba

Date: Friday, April 03, 2009, 1:58 pm
By: Kevin Freking, Associated Press


WASHINGTON - Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will travel to Cuba on Friday in another sign of federal lawmakers' interest in easing a long-standing trade embargo and travel restrictions.



Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said the trip is designed to demonstrate to Cubans that the American people are interested in building a new relationship with them.

"Diplomacy and a new way of looking at our foreign policy just makes sense," said Lee, chairwoman of the caucus.

Visits to Cuba by members of Congress are hardly new, but some lawmakers believe the election of President Barack Obama presents a new opportunity to open up trade and tourism. Business and farm groups are backing the lawmakers' efforts.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate announced their support for legislation that would prevent the president from stopping travel to Cuba except in cases of war, imminent danger to public health or threats to the physical safety of U.S. travelers. An identical bill in the House has 120 co-sponsors.

Lee said she did not believe that improved economic relations with Cuba would strengthen the communist government at the expense of the Cuban people.

"It's a country that we've had an embargo against for what, 40 years, but it hasn't worked," Lee said. "American citizens should have a right to travel to determine their own points of view."

Lee said her top priority when addressing U.S.-Cuba relations would be on easing travel restrictions.
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:
quote:
Originally posted by Khalliqa:
I've never been.. I would like to visit..

I wonder what the feedback is like in Florida...


This embargo thing is about 'power'.

Power to control.

Cuban sugar which is of equal,or better, quality is significantly cheaper than U.S. sugar...which is subsidized by the U.S. government.

Our government supports the U.S. companies that controls the agricultural products of Caribbean nations.


PEACE

Jim Chester


Absolutely Jim Chester. This is the root of the entire Cuban embargo and aggression by the U.S.
Ex-Pats from Cuba, mainly the white ones, descendants of the spanairds seem to absolutely hate everything Castro to a frenzy. It honestly sickens me.
I would like to go visit Cuba as I would like to visit Haiti for spiritual/religious reasons.
Hoping that they expand the visitations some more, not just put them back to the Clinton era levels.

This is the Clinton era level visitation I was talking about.
quote:
The president has authority to loosen the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba on his own. The new rules will affect an estimated 1.5 million Americans who have family members in Cuba. Other Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba but only if they qualify through certain cultural, educational and other programs.
Quick note: Since when did Florida become an extended part of Cuba? When are Cubans in the majority in Florida? Maybe I missed something here? Lots of the people I know from Florida are black. Yah, I'm really not too fond of the spanish descended ex-pats because of the shit their ancestors did to blacks in Cuba. And what they are going to do if they ever get a chance to get back into Cuba.
quote:
Originally posted by Yemaya:
Quick note: Since when did Florida become an extended part of Cuba? When are Cubans in the majority in Florida? Maybe I missed something here? Lots of the people I know from Florida are black. Yah, I'm really not too fond of the spanish descended ex-pats because of the shit their ancestors did to blacks in Cuba. And what they are going to do if they ever get a chance to get back into Cuba.


I can't speak for others but the bitter expats are to whom I'm referring when I speak of Floridians Yemaya.. it is my understanding that they control and dominate the politics there...
quote:
Originally posted by Yemaya:
Quick note: Since when did Florida become an extended part of Cuba? When are Cubans in the majority in Florida? Maybe I missed something here?


In the early 60's when Fidel took over. Roll Eyes

Rich and middle-class Cubans escaped/exiled to Florida because Fidel was taking their land and money! Pretty much as soon as their feet touched U.S. soil, they were made into "-Americans" and wealth of the nation was opened up to them as if they were royalty. sck

They got money to start businesses ... welfare ... health care ... tax cuts ... citizenship .. all the things Black folk were still facing dogs and fire hoses trying to obtain. Mad

They took their ill-gotten gains and bankrolled it (literally) into (Conservative) political clout ... which up until the last election has generally been quite powerful and counted for a whole lot.
I was playing golf with a Canadian citizen that until a couple of years ago wintered in Cuba. He said that for $300-400/month [US], you could live in Cuba like a rockstar. He told me stories of cigars, sipping rums and some of the finest women [afro-cubans] on Earth.

He said that he stopped going only because with stepped up DHS it was becoming too much of a hassle travelling through the US to Cuba.
quote:
Originally posted by Yemaya:
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
I have been wanting to go back since I visited in 1991.
Hmmm, I feel the need to create a class for next January's J term to take myself and students to study Afro-Cuban religion.
Oh yeah!


Can I be a visiting student in that class??!!! Big Grin


yeah

quote:
Originally posted by Kweli4Real:
I was playing golf with a Canadian citizen that until a couple of years ago wintered in Cuba. He said that for $300-400/month [US], you could live in Cuba like a rockstar. He told me stories of cigars, sipping rums and some of the finest women [afro-cubans] on Earth.


The brothers ain't bad either... Genuinely friendly folks... Can't wait to go back...

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quote:
Originally posted by Kweli4Real:
I was playing golf with a Canadian citizen that until a couple of years ago wintered in Cuba. He said that for $300-400/month [US], you could live in Cuba like a rockstar. He told me stories of cigars, sipping rums and some of the finest women [afro-cubans] on Earth.

He said that he stopped going only because with stepped up DHS it was becoming too much of a hassle travelling through the US to Cuba.


What's DHS? Is that Homeland Security or airport fare expenses from country to country?
quote:
Originally posted by Yemaya:

Quick note: Since when did Florida become an extended part of Cuba? When are Cubans in the majority in Florida? Maybe I missed something here? Lots of the people I know from Florida are black. Yah, I'm really not too fond of the spanish descended ex-pats because of the shit their ancestors did to blacks in Cuba. And what they are going to do if they ever get a chance to get back into Cuba.




Yemaya, south florida/miami/hialeah is jokingly referred to as "North Cuba". There are lots of cuban neighborhoods, business owners, etc and they weild a lot of political influence over the decisions that are made by the city of Miami and Dade county, not to mention the state representatives.

Remember this thread?

Floridian Cubans were upset about a textbook in the Miami-Dade school system which they deemed too positive about Castro's Cuba...
The Cubans in Florida don't give a hoot about Cuba, what they give a hoot about is money....the kind of money they know will be made if the US opens up free and unrestricted travel and trade to Cuba.

IMHO, what they want is to be in a better position then everybody else to take advantage of the money to be made by opening up new hotels and having access to all the best property on the island. I don't know how one can profess love and concern for the people of Cuba and then denied them the opportunity that comes with lots of Americans spending money down there on travel and trade.
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:
The Cubans in Florida don't give a hoot about Cuba, what they give a hoot about is money....the kind of money they know will be made if the US opens up free and unrestricted travel and trade to Cuba.

IMHO, what they want is to be in a better position then everybody else to take advantage of the money to be made by opening up new hotels and having access to all the best property on the island. I don't know how one can profess love and concern for the people of Cuba and then denied them the opportunity that comes with lots of Americans spending money down there on travel and trade.


Exactly Jazzdog. That was my point. Its the same old spaniard descended people who owned plantation homes and sugar plantations worked the blacks like they were still slaves, murdered their political leaders in 1912. They want to take control of Cuba because THEY believe its what's best for Cuba. Those people little about the masses of Cubans.

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