Some political analysts consider the measures implemented by the Obama Administration on January 27 to be a further step on the road to the normalization of Cuba-U.S. relations.
However, although these provisions point in the right direction, others regard them as being once again, less than what might have reasonably been hoped for.
The measures, which also ease restrictions for U.S citizens to travel to Cuba, were announced jointly by the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury.
Almost all U.S. daily papers -including USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal - the news media in Florida, the main TV networks and other sources highlighted their future impact on relations between the neighboring states.
James Williams, president of the organization Engage Cuba that advocates for the lifting of unilateral sanctions imposed on Havana said that “it is now time for Congress to lift the embargo (blockade), a policy that has for 50 years been a monumental failure”.
The adjustments demonstrate that Obama has the power to essentially disable the bundle of laws that define the anti-Cuban sanctions, even though only Congress can totally repeal them.
The new measures permit the granting of credit to the island in order to make payments for specifically authorized exports from the United States, excluding agricultural produce.
Nevertheless they have left in place the prohibition on Cuba’s use of the dollar for international transactions, which seriously complicates the actual use of such loans.
A spokesperson for Cuba’s Foreign Ministry told The Havana Reporter that in order to repay credits within established time-frames, Cuba would have to do so in a currency other than the dollar via a third country, adding considerably to the cost of the process.
There are even more obstacles associated with this, because the Obama Administration has excluded products that generate income for the state, such as materials for tourism, the extraction or production of minerals and others that might be used by the armed forces, the police or other state security related agencies.
In keeping with the recent preliminary accords signed by both sides on the reopening of commercial flights, the measures also broaden the possibilities for travel to Cuba for airline or passenger ferry service operators.
There are also sections included in these latest accords which are directly related to Washington’s endeavors to influence Cuba’s internal socio-political order, something it failed to do for more than 50 years of what the White House now accepts as being an absolutely ineffective policy.
In this regard, they promote the export and reexportation of goods and information programs for “human rights” organizations, individuals and entities aligned with U.S. interests in Cuba.
The measures increase the scope of travel licenses to include work on informative materials, including recording and film production, musicals and television programs and also permit the until now prohibited organization of meetings and conferences in Cuba.
The measures that came into effect on January 27 are encouraging for those who are convinced that Obama could use his executive powers to eliminate the bulk of restrictions that impede enhanced relations between both nations in order to give form once and for all to his stated desire to do away with all obsolete policies on Cuba.Share on FB Share on TT