As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Slow Unfreeze With Cuba

I'm happy to finally see this as a start to unfreezing relations with Cuba:

The Obama administration on Monday will lift travel and gift restrictions for Cuban Americans, allowing them to travel more freely to the island and send additional financial help to family members.

The policy change is the most significant U.S. gesture to Cuba in decades and comes amid efforts in Congress to lift all travel restrictions to the island.

"This is an effort to reach out to the Cuban people in an effort to support the Cuban people's desire to freely determine their country's future," a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the White House has not yet made the official announcement, told McClatchy. "The president has said this is the most direct means to open up the kind of space that is necessary to see democratic change in Cuba."

The changes also include opening up greater communication to the island and expanding the items that can be sent to Cuba, including clothing, personal hygiene items and fishing equipment.

Realistically, lots of Americans already travel to Cuba. And only Congress can fully lift the travel ban. What's key here is the gesture, and the overture to finally have a serious conversation about US-Cuba relations in the 21st century. The Castro brothers are 82 and 77. They should no longer drive our policy with Cuba for the future. Obviously, human rights concerns on the island must be part of a comprehensive solution, but this is a very good start.

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