24 January 2007

Is Easing of Sanctions and Travel Restrictions In the Near Future?

Is America missing an opportunity to influence the outcome of the Cuban transition by continuing to isolate the island through travel restrictions and economic sanctions?

The congressmen that make up the House Cuba working group think so and said on Tuesday that they would propose legislation to do so, according to The Financial Times via MSNBC.

They claim that this is a “mainstream view” in congress which means the legislation would become law. If it does, the President would probably use his veto.

Crucial to the pending legislation, is the health of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Castro delegated power to a group of rulers lead by his brother Raul.

The mood in Cuba is one of anxiey and desperation but there is always an expectation that there will be changes once Fidel dies. These expectations have been fueled in part by statements from Raul Castro saying among other things that he was fed up with excuses about the food and transportation situation on the island.

The new regime, by its own actions, has put itself in a position where it is going to have to deliver on some changes in order to gain some level of credibility and support from the population, especially the youth.

This is a dynamic that has never existed before in the US’ dealings with Cuba since they were dealing with Fidel, who didn’t care about the welfare of his people and would only negotiate to further his revolutionary delusions without the pressure of having to get some benefits for the Cuban people.

This time around , things are different, since the new regime needs to make some changes.

So it should be interesting.

The administration , like me , is holding out hope of some kind of a mass social upheaval to force some changes:

John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, said the Cuban "regime" was trying to create a "soft landing" while transitioning power to Raúl Castro. "We don't want to see that happen," he told the Senate intelligence committee. "But what is not known is whether people are holding back. Maybe we're not seeing the kind of ferment yet that one might expect to see once Mr Castro has definitively departed the scene."
This is not likely to happen.

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