Monday, April 13, 2009
The 47-year-old trade embargo is still on, but the Obama administration announced today a loosening of long-standing restrictions on Cuba.
"Cuban Americans will now be allowed to travel freely to the island and send as much money [and gifts] as they want to their family members—so long as the money is not going to senior members of the Cuban government or the Communist Party," according to The New York Times. The White House is also working to open up telecommunications in Cuba.
But U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) is leading a charge to take bigger steps to warm up to our island neighbor. He and 45 other members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama, calling for a 10-step plan to normalize relations:
- 1. Do not oppose Cuba’s full participation in the Organization of American States.
- 2. Lift limits on gift parcels regardless of relationship.
- 3. Remove limits on remittances regardless of relationship.
- 4. Reestablish all forms of legal travel; investigate broadening categories.
- 5. For agricultural trade, reinstate payment requirement in advance of delivery, not in advance of shipping.
- 6. Allow direct U.S.-Cuba shipping without intermediate stops.
- 7. Pursue cooperation between U.S. and Cuban security and law enforcement agencies.
- 8. Remove designation as state sponsor of terrorism.
- 9. Remove designation as country not cooperating with antiterrorism efforts.
- 10. Provide aid for disaster relief and health-related assistance.
Farr will deliver the letter to President Obama later this week, according to a press release. Farr and Obama will fly together to the Summit of the Americas on Thursday.
"It’s time to initiate a complete overhaul of our relationship with Cuba," Farr states in the press release. "It will start with reform to family travel and remittances, but it can’t end there. We must expand this new policy of diplomatic outreach to our own backyard and restore responsible relations with Cuba."