— Financial Times (@FT) February 14, 2015
Havana (CNN) — Church bells rang out Wednesday afternoon in Havana, marking a major moment in history — Cuba and the United States are renewing diplomatic relations after decades of ice-cold tension.
Word of the massive change was met with passionate opinions and some protests in the United States. And tearful celebrations erupted in the streets of the island after President Raul Castro announced the news in a televised address.
“With the main obstacle for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations eliminated, the only unknown is the next step. Is the Cuban government planning another move to return to a position of force vis-a-vis the U.S. government? Or are all the cards on the table this time, before the weary eyes of a population that anticipates that the Castro regime will also win the next move.”
— Yoani Sanchez, a well-known Cuban blogger
But there was uncertainty and some anger amid the joy.
Dissident Cuban blogger Yusnaby Perez tweeted that his neighbor asked him whether a change in U.S.-Cuban trade relations would mean that he could finally afford to buy meat.
Other dissidents worried that their concerns will now be overlooked.
Yoani Sanchez, a well-known Cuban blogger, decried what she described as a carefully plotted victory for the Castro regime in the swap of detained U.S. contractor Alan Gross for Cuban spies imprisoned in America. Read the rest of this entry »
Rich Lowry writes: …His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.
The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).
“If tourism were the key to empowering and eventually liberating the Cuban people, the country would be a robust democracy by now. About a million Canadian tourists go to Cuba every year. In total, more than 2 million tourists visit annually, and yet the Castro regime is still standing.”
The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.
After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.
“The Cuba embargo is condemned as a relic of the Cold War. But the root of the matter is the Cuban regime that is itself a relic, an inhuman jackboot left over from the era when people actually professed to believe in workers’ paradises.”
Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — With President Obama announcing major shifts to diplomatic relations with the island nation of Cuba, it’s going to get easier to find the one of the country’s most renowned exports:
In the changing relations, the “number of steps to significantly increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba,” will increase, diplomatic officials told reporters Wednesday.
American citizens will be also authorized to import additional good from Cuba.
The ease of travel and commercial restrictions may soon result in more Cuban cigars in the country. Relaxed commercial restrictions may facilitate the ability to do exports by making the general process easier, as well as more travelers from Cuba bringing back the famed smoking sticks. Read the rest of this entry »