Cuba: Obama’s “Relaxation Measures” Tippy-Toe in Right Direction, Sort Of. . .


I haven’t had time yet to digest the Obama administration’s “relaxation” of restrictions in US-Cuba relations. I’m on a boat — and sailing in the vicinity of Cuba tomorrow, though in Curacao today.
But I will say that the Obama team needs to prepare for an onslaught of frustration and anger regarding anything that designates certain “ethnic categories” of Americans.
Relaxing Cuban-American travel is discriminatory against other Americans. We have had too much law and too many norms that didn’t permit some classes of Americans access to. . .hmm. . .let’s say the White House and many other positions and opportunities.
Communist governments often tell their citizens where and when they can go somewhere.
An American government only soils its own reputation by trying to restrict the travel of US citizens — in a way not dissimilar than what the Soviets did, or the Chinese government used to do, or even the Cuban government today.
Obama needs to show the “courage of his convictions” and stand up for American democratic values with regard to US citizens. Restricting travel for any US citizens as payoff to a cabal that run a political machine in Miami is a gross violation of the social contract American citizens have with their government.
Even the George W. Bush administration for the first three years of its tenure allowed non-tourist people-to-people travel and exchange. Engagement works and would benefit American interests in the region. From what I can tell, Obama does not even go back to the status quo under the last Bush administration. That’s a shame, and it’s wrong.
Opening opportunities for “Cuban-Americans” as opposed to other “Americans” is something one can hardly imagine a man like Barack Obama doing.
It’s wrong. He should fix this immediately. Or expect a wave of dissent about the racism and discrimination that Obama is apparently upholding in these “relaxation” moves.
— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “Cuba: Obama’s “Relaxation Measures” Tippy-Toe in Right Direction, Sort Of. . .

  1. Biff Condor says:

    The Cuban embargo was put in place soley to prevent the Soviets from moving offensive weapons (nukes) into Cuba. Simple as that. You can wrap up all the “supporting a police state” etc reasons for maintaining the embargo – however I can guarantee you that opening the border would hasten then finale demise of Castro and his regime – not prolong it. Last I heard the Soviet Union has been dead and rotting in it’s grave for about 20 years.
    Ignore the strong anti-castro lobby in south Florida and simply look at the facts. Opening the borders would be good for the U.S. and also good for Cuba.
    Look what happened to East Germany when it opened up – ooops – that’s right it was quickly ceased to exist as a communist state and now is part of a reunified Germany. Given the choice, I believe that the Cuban people would embrace the US and the CASTRO regime would fairly quickly turn to dust.


  2. bangzoom14 says:

    The embargo and travel restrictions on Cuba is another example of a good old american fiasco that just gets worse as time goes on. How many more of these wing-nut idiotic ideas do have to put up with in this country? Now is as perfect time as any to reverse all the restrictions on travel and trade to Cuba. Period. It’s that simple.


  3. David says:

    Obama needs to show the “courage of his convictions” and stand up for American democratic values with regard to US citizens. Restricting travel for any US citizens as payoff to a cabal that run a political machine in Miami is a gross violation of the social contract American citizens have with their government.
    Amen from down Florida way.


  4. Chris Brown says:

    The most important reason, other than the fact it is a violation of the fundamental rights of USA citizens, is that as practical matter it is ineffectual. Any USA citizen may travel to Cuba and spend money there, most conveniently through Cancun, without consequence.
    Cubans are well educated, healthy, and very resourceful, as evidenced by the old USA autos with Eastern European running gear. Hybrid vehicle has a whole different meaning there.
    Cubans are completely informed as to current events, consumer goods, and popular culture; and wish to avail themselves of such.
    I don’t recognize that the USA government has the authority to tell me where or where not I may travel.
    I, too, am disappointed in Obama’s tentativeness relative to dismantling the economic blockcade.


  5. Carroll says:

    Since 90% of Americans know our government itself is lawless we don’t have any reason to abide by laws the government makes that we don’t like or agree with.
    Break their special interest laws early and often.


  6. jonst says:

    Oh for God’s sake Zatharas, let’s move into the goddamn 21 century. First off, nothing needs to go ON A BURNER. There is nothing to ‘cook’ here. Just let people travel where they want to go. All people.
    You write: “Regardless of what one thinks of the Cuban embargo, it’s been in place for a really long time, and the government to which it applies is, and is likely to remain, a police state.”. So what? So what? People want to go there…sit on the beach, listen to music, smoke a cigar, let’em. And let Obama focus on all the difficulties you note. Not this petty ass stuff from the 60s


  7. Mr.Murder says:

    You wanna stop this half assed Congressional horse shit train of people intent on obfuscation of your agenda?
    Revive the Pelfrey prostitution case. She had clients outside of one district, state, and country. Sounds like soemthing worthy of Federal investigation.
    Arm Hillary with a few tidbits of info on Pelfrey’s foreign client list. Time to harden some EU support for our aims. Same goes for SEATO, etc.
    Suddenly a few GOPers are taking time away from voting filibusters to spend time putting food their families….
    PUSH BACK HARD. This is where the big dogs eat. There’s some ENRON items to review as well. The continuing AIG drainage. All those Bush scandals aren’t done with, there’s still blood on the tracks.
    Serve them a healthy dose of pragmatism, by their deeds the voters shall know them! Hate to make waves, but the beltway circuit needs a Tsunami.


  8. kathleen G says:

    Plan to tap into their health care system while your there?
    Really liked it when Castro offered to send Doctors and nurses into the U.S. after Katrina. We turned his generous offer down


  9. Kathleen G says:

    emptywheel over at FDL asking us to call Senator Specter
    Call for the Senate to Vote for Process at OLC–and Dawn Johnsen
    By: emptywheel Thursday March 12, 2009 6:39 am
    digg it
    Update: Predictably, Arlen “Scottish Haggis” Specter put a one-week hold on Dawn Johnsen. Call Specter at (202) 224-4254 and tell him to stop obstructing Obama’s nominees. It’s time we cleaned up OLC and Specter’s just ensuring the Cheneyesque abuse of power will continue for a few more weeks.
    In short time, the Office of Professional Responsibility will release a report on the abuses of John Yoo at OLC. The report will describe a process which Yoo used to “analyze” law that looks something like this:
    1. David Addington calls Yoo and tells him what program Cheney wants to do–or has already started doing
    2. An official request for a memo comes from Alberto Gonzales or Jim Haynes, presenting that desired program as a hypothetical–“what if we wanted to do X”–rather than the fait accompli Addington presented it as over phone or email
    3. Yoo drafts a memo authorizing that program
    4. Yoo eliminates or otherwise frivolously dismisses references to key precedents like Youngstown or Milligan
    5. Yoo scours obscure documents–like insurance legislation or TV series–to find standards for torture and domestic surveillance that allows him to stretch the limits of legality well beyond belief
    6. Yoo finalizes draft and sends it to Addington
    7. Addington corrects it with a big red pen
    8. Yoo makes Addington’s final changes and distributes memo to about 3 people
    9. All 3 people receiving the memo put it into a drawer, a briefcase, or a man-sized safe, to make sure those implementing this program will never see it
    10. When Congress or the ACLU or some other do-gooder asks for a copy, tell them it’s unclassified, but they still can’t have it “so there”


  10. Zathras says:

    Oh, for God’s sake. Cuban-Americans today, all Americans the day after tomorrow. “Racism and discrimination,” my left foot.
    Regardless of what one thinks of the Cuban embargo, it’s been in place for a really long time, and the government to which it applies is, and is likely to remain, a police state. I’m sympathetic to the case for a policy change on Cuba, but it neither is nor should it be a front burner issue right now. If the policy change needs to take time and be done in stages instead of in a dramatic, emotionally satisfying and entirely unreciprocated gesture of contrition and repentance toward a Communist regime that has brought no end of trouble to its own people and those of many other countries ever since its founding, so be it.
    I have to say I’m impressed by how little consideration so many ostensible supporters of this President show for the difficulties piled on him at this moment in our history. It’s one thing to criticize him for not doing things any President should do at any time — as I said in response to the Attallah post yesterday, this includes sticking up for appointees to his own administration when they come under attack from interest groups promoting their own policy agenda.
    Pitching a fit just because Obama doesn’t adopt all of one’s own policy agenda right away is something else. At a minimum, it’s not helpful to the people who have actual responsibility for dealing with all the problems facing the country right now.


  11. WharfRat says:

    Steve: I agree. President Obama needs to do everything possible to ensure that American capitalists can complete the job begun under the Polk administration. Maybe the US should be considering a policy that looks out for more than just American interests, but Cuban interests as well.
    You could make a latte with all the froth on this post.
    To somehow encourage a racist framing to this policy is not only irresponsible, but intellectually lazy and dishonest. Need I remind you of the racist roots of our initial attempts to colonize Cuba to keep it as a sugar-producing slave plantation in order to maintain the balance of power in the US Congress b/w North and South. That you want to call this racist really shows the way in which your class imposes serious limitations on the analytical concepts you attempt to use here.
    And besides, if you weren’t hanging out with so many squares, you’d know how easy it is for Americans to travel to Cuba already.


  12. charlie says:

    Steve: I would encourage you to look at the basic constitutional provisions of the Cuba travel ban. I don’t think they are there.
    The basic ban is spending US currency there. Fine. Spend something else. I think the courts expanded that to “US money” which is a broader concept, but again, if you have money earned in the EU what is prevent a US citizen from spending those euros as he/she pleases?
    Restricting travel to certain classes of Americans clearly is a equal protection issue. I’d argue strict scrutiny, rather than a rational basis test, should apply.


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