HAVANA._ Recent developments in Cuba-U.S relations, which represent the first steps on the long road to normalization, may be beneficial not only to the people and administrations of both countries, but to the international community as a whole.

Recent developments in Cuba-U.S relations, which represent the first steps on the long road to normalization, may be beneficial not only to the people and administrations of both countries, but to the international community as a whole.Even though White House moves to reverse more than half a century of hostility towards the Caribbean island have been extremely limited to date, the improvements have created a more favorable atmosphere for regional relationships in general.

In this regard, comments made by the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, indicating that the U.S. could greatly enhance its ties with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) by lifting the blockade against Cuba, were timely indeed.

Having reiterated that the U.S. unilateral aggression contravenes all international norms, Patiño also recalled that it had been rejected by the United Nations General Assembly for 23 consecutive years.

The easing of tensions between Washington and Havana also favors U.S. allies such as Canada and European Union member nations.

However, the commercial interests of such countries will continue to be harmed by extra-territorial sanctions as long as the blockade remains in force.

Since the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations was announced by both presidents on 17 December, U.S. businessmen and religious and community leaders have voiced support for a successful outcome to the process.

Spokespersons for various commercial interest groups have expressed their hopes that Congress responds to Obama’s request to repeal legislation for the implementation of the blockade.

In light of this new context, the American Express company announced that, in line with modifications introduced by the White House which allow for the use of U.S. credit cards on the island, it was in the process of establishing commercial activities within Cuba.

They are the second credit card company to do so; MasterCard Inc. also revealed plans to start Cuban commercial transactions from March 1.

These are just some examples, along with manufacturing, food production and automobile sector companies indicating their interest in establishing business ties with the island.

Given its proximity to Cuba, the state of Florida is likely to be among the chief beneficiaries of improved future relationships between the two neighboring nations.

Meanwhile, lawyer and shareholder in the GrayRobinson company Milton Vescovacci spoke in Miami city recently about “a million opportunities” in the financial and travel sectors in particular for that southern U.S. region.

On January 16, the U.S. Treasury and Trade departments announced modifications that eliminate some restrictions on bilateral trade and ease the prohibitions on travel to Cuba for certain categories of U.S citizens.

However, the long economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba remains very much intact.

It is worth recalling that the consequences of this policy are suffered by companies from third countries, including banks that have been fined vast sums of money for providing services to Cuba.

New provisions allow U.S. financial institutions to open accounts in Cuban banks for authorized transactions between the two countries. However, there has been no reciprocal gesture and such facilities continue to be denied within the U.S. to Cuban counterparts

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