Monday, April 13, 2009

Cuba policy loosened a little

Finally, the Obama administration has unleashed its modest changes in Cuba policy. Yes, let’s have Cuban Americans be our grassroots diplomats. I nominate Joe Garcia to lead the soft invasion. Joe, are you going? Well, you might not be welcome to the leadership over there.

The Miami Herald was ready for this. Its website already has travel tips (Carry lots of cash!), plus a place for people to upload their videos of trips to see their family. Reminds me that I have a Cuba video up, though it was taken here in Miami almost two years ago, when Barack Obama made a speech declaring his Cuba policy changes.
Here it is, from Aug. 25, 2007:

Policy in this country moves at glacial speed. This should have been done long ago.
UPDATE: Click here for the White House fact sheet on this policy shift.

Meanwhile, I, too, was preparing for this and have some stuff ready to amaze you. Weeks ago I started wondering what we were supposed to make of all the Cuba stuff in the news.

On April 8 the front page of the Miami Herald reported a federal indictment linking the aged Luis Posada Carriles to tourist-site bombings in Cuba in 1997. Didn’t say he did it. No, they say he lied when he denied being part of it. Such weasely indictments have plagued the American machinery of justice at least since Al Capone was run up for tax evasion rather than murder and mayhem. But I guess we will take what we get.

The timing, however, was what intrigued your blogger. This Posada is one of the most prominent bugaboos of the Castro regime, and for the U.S. to indict him could be seen as a gesture to the Cuban government. Or maybe it’s just the result of the slow grind of the wheel of justice.

Still, it emerged as President Obama was preparing to relax Cuba policy at least a little bit in advance of the Summit of the Americas to be held in Trinidad April 17-19. All we’ve been led to expect is that Cuban Americans will be able to make family visits to Cuba more easily and to send remittances more often – that is, to remove harsh rules imposed by George W. Bush at urging of the old guard Miami exiles. But much more is possible, and there’s the usual crescendo in Congress of talk about a more general easing of the Cuba embargo.

To declare an interest, your blogger reveals ownership of a sailboat – small but Havana-capable – as well as a strong belief that his human rights include travel anywhere. And not a speck of Cuba in my family background (though I do have a shirt inscribed Democrata Cubano – Y que?)

The Cuba travel bug hit a couple weeks ago with several news stories about the Havana Biennial:
It was on the front page of the Miami Herald, along with a riveting video showing Cubans yelling for freedom as part of an art happening. That’s what I want to go to Havana to see. Spare me the cigars and rum, get me some politics!

Also, in the NY Times was an arts-section story on all the artists and gallery people who can traipse over to Havana – while I can’t. WTF? At Havana Biennial, Chelsea Takes a Field Trip to Cuba -

As I say, so much is going on that it must make our Republican members of the U.S. House dizzy with despair. They are so yesterday.

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