Yesterday, President Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs and National Security Council Director for Latin America Dan Restrepo unveiled the administration’s pre-Summit of the Americas opening move on US-Cuba relations.
In the package, travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban-Americans are completely waived. Japanese-Americans, Scotch-Irish types, Jewish-Americans, non-Cuban descended African-Americans, non-Cuban descended Latinos, and those from Iceland who have naturalized as US citizens are not covered under the Obama plan — along with a lot of other Americans.
Nonetheless, opening up travel and engagement for any group is some progress — just not nearly enough.
Obama also eased humanitarian aid levels and perhaps most interestingly — in a move that not only allows cell phone options for visiting Cuban Americans to Cuba but also matches a similar electronics liberalization step taken six months ago by Raul Castro — the administration is allowing US telecommunications firms to work out communications deals and arrangements with Cuban firms. This is important because it will broaden the ability of Cubans themselves to communicate with the outside world and prevents a potential fiberoptic and communications monopoly from going to Venezuela.
Today at 9:00 am in Washington, DC, I will be chairing a morning conference on US-Cuba relations with a great panel of commentators who will be addressing the upcoming Summit of the Americas and US-Cuba relations.
This event will be “taped” by C-Span and air later — but you can watch live on line here at The Washington Note.
Here is our morning schedule for the program, “Is It Time to End the Cold War in Latin America? America’s National Interests, the Summit of the Americas, and a New Look at US-Cuba Relations”
President, New America Foundation
Former Managing Editor, Washington Post
Washington Staff Writer, The New Yorker
What Would an Interest-Driven Relationship Between the U.S. and Latin America Look Like if It Existed? Where do US-Cuba Relations Fit In?
Senior Policy Advisor for Latin America to Senator Richard Lugar
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson (USA, Ret)
Former Chief of Staff, Department of State
Chairman, US-Cuba 21st Century Policy Initiative, New America Foundation
Pamela Harriman Visiting Professor, College of William & Mary
Whitehead Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Author, The American Way of Strategy: US Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life
Former Executive Editor, The National Interest
Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies
and Director of Latin Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Author, Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century
President & CEO, Garten Rothkopf
Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Author, Running the World: The Inside Story of the NSC and the Architects of American Power
National Security Blogger, Foreign Policy
Senior Writer & Diplomatic Correspondent, US News & World Report
Former Associate Editor, Foreign Policy
The Hon. William A. Reinsch
President, National Foreign Trade Council
Former Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration
moderator and provocateur
Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation
Publisher, The Washington Note
Should be an interesting session.
— Steve Clemons