Republican Dick Lugar proposed normalizing relations a few days ago, and now we’re seeing some movement. And even though Obama has said that he’s opposed to normalization, I can’t help but think this is a first step towards that.
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.
So why lift the embargo?
Well, for one, we have trade relationships with countries who have done things far more questionable than Cuba. Also, the embargo has simply worn out any usefulness that it once had.
Still, it’s always been a political hot button issue, so people have stayed away from it. My guess is that Obama will too for the time being, but if he gets reelected in 2012, he’ll probably feel emboldened to lift the ban. And with Republicans like Lugar behind him, it makes doing that a lot easier.
Could it come sooner rather than later?
More as it develops…