April 14, 2009
U.S. lifts Cuban travel ban and commerce restrictions

Within hours of President Barack Obama’s announcement that some restrictions on travel and commerce would be eased between the United States and Cuba, the man whose policies provoked those restrictions almost 50 years ago weighed in.

In an online column, the ailing former president Fidel Castro said the U.S. had announced the repeal of “several hateful restrctions,” as he put it. But “of the blockade, which is the cruelest of measures,” said Castro, “not a word was uttered.”

Peter Eisner, who recently spent several weeks in Cuba reporting for the Worldfocus signature series “Cuba After Fidel,” joins Martin Savidge to discuss how these changes will impact the average Cuban, if more changes on the part of the U.S. are expected and if the U.S. will ask the Cuban government for changes.

For a background on U.S.-Cuban relations, listen to our online radio show on Cuba and the U.S., featuring Peter Eisner.

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Comments

8 comments

#8

[...] this year, just before attending the Summit of the Americas meeting in Trinidad. In that case, he rolled back Bush administration restrictions on travel and money transfers by Cuban exiles in the United States to the island. He also authorized new communications licensing [...]

#7

[...] was a hot topic, as Obama recently loosened travel and remittances restrictions for Cuban Americans. ”The policy that we’ve had in place for 50 years hasn’t worked the way we want [...]

#6

It is very dificult not to be happy with this new change in policy specially if you are Cuban-American like me and still have very close relative in the island. But the happiness is totally overshadow by the Dictator rules who required us to “ask” and “pay” for a “visa” and a “Cuban passport” just to go visit our relatives. Those that are so happy with President Obama’s decision, think how would you feel if you were living in another country and in order for you to come back to the USA (the place you were born) would have to ask for permition and pay the goverment?

#5

The lifting of restrictions by the Obama administration is a positive step since it will help in the reunification of Cuban families, on both sides of the Florida Straights. It is also possible that further steps may be taken, resulting in the elimination of all travel restrictions to all Americans in general, pending Congress approval. Yes, the embargo should be gradually lifted but the Cuban government should also take equal steps, as a sign of good faith, and ease or remove existing restrictions for the Cubans who wish to leave the island. They could equally take the initiative, without pressures from the outside, to release a number of political prisioners and take a more conciliatory attitude towards the internal dissident groups. It should also me mentioned that while one cannot deny that the revolution has achieved a great deal, particularly in the areas of education and health care, it is also easy to forget that one of the promises Castro made as part of his revolutionary program, was to hold free and democratic elections, which he quickly broke after his victory in 1959. Since then his regime has often taken harsh and repressive measures against those who did not agree with him, including many who were at his side during the revolutionary days in the Sierra Maestra. One can cite the case of former majors Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo and Hubert Matos, who were sentenced to long prison terms for disagreeing with Fidel over the direction the revolution was taking. Technically Castro was never officially or democratically elected as Prime Minister initially, or President later.
Thank you!

#4

You know, the USA’s response to Iranian hostage taking and the failure of Bay of Pigs has been a response based on anger and revenge. Anger and revenge should not be qualities of great nation. Certainly the support of Iraq against Iran has not worked out very well! We do not need to continue our hurtful actions against Cuba. Lifting the ban is the right thing to do. We should have done it yesterday.

#3

I resent Martin Savidge referring to Cuba as a communist nation. Never since the revolution has President Castro or any other government official claimed to be anything but socialist. Anyone who has read literature by Castro and others would know that - provided they’re not blinded by hate or prejudice. It’s time for Americans to form their own opinions, not those of the rich in the U. S. and Cuba who benefitted from the corrupt government Castro and others overthrew in 1959. The embargo imposed by then President Eisenhower and continued to this day, was levied because the new Cuban government nationalized the casinos, industries and hotels almost all of which were foreign (U.S.) owned. Many who fled Coba and continue to vilify Castro to this day are mostly descendents of wealthy landowners who profitted from the U.S. backed dictatorship of General Batista. Their biggest grievance is that they couldn’t bring most of that wealth, usually gotten from the blood and sweat of the very poor, with them. I agree with Fidel Castro, the embargo was and is the cruelest response of all. It’s time to do more: LET CUBA LIVE, LIFT THE EMBARGO!

#2

I believe the is a lack of respect to the public when the host of the Show refers to Dictator Fidel Castro as Ex president of Cuba. The monster of dictator was never elected by the people during the almost 50 years he acted as the 1st figured of that Communist goverment.

#1

Not all polls are correct, the opinion on the street still shows strong support in favor of the embargo.

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