Not Enough on Cuba Embargo

Not Enough on Cuba Embargo

The president makes some progress, but not enough, on ending the anachronism called the US embargo against Cuba.


Next year, the US embargo against Cuba will be a half-century old, a mold-encrusted relic in the cold war museum, yet there it is—and it doesn’t look like the Obama administration is planning to end it anytime soon. On January 14, the White House announced a series of half-measures that weaken American efforts to isolate Havana, welcome steps all: academic, cultural, and religious groups can now freely travel to Cuba; American citizens are free to send money to non-relatives in the island nation, up to $500 every three months; and any US airport may now allow licensed charter aircraft to fly roundtrip. It’s a follow-up to measures that President Obama announced in April 2009 lifting restrictions on travel and cash remittances by family members of Cuban residents.

Yet the president’s actions hardly qualify as a profile in courage. He held off making the announcement last fall, when hawks in Congress, including Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) warned that easing anti-Cuba measures could hurt Democrats’ re-election chances, and when the decision was made it was released late on Friday evening, while Republicans were out of town on a retreat. Yet more than two-thirds of voters support easing travel restrictions on Cuba, and 75 percent (86 percent of Democrats) back the idea of a meeting between US and Cuban leaders. Conservative groups, from the US Chamber of Commerce to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops want to end the isolation of Cuba. And in the end, what Obama did only gets American policy back roughly to where it was during the Clinton administration, before George W. Bush tightened the screws.

The usual suspects made noises: Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, condemned Obama’s decision, and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) called it a "gift to the Castro brothers." It remains to be seen if Obama will quietly ignore their ilk and move forward to end the embargo once and for all. The Cuban foreign ministry, while calling Obama’s actions "positive," concluded: "They have a very limited reach and do not change US policy against Cuba." It’s past time for change we do believe in.

Like this Blog Post? Read it on the Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow.

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read. It’s just one of many examples of incisive, deeply-reported journalism we publish—journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media. For nearly 160 years, The Nation has spoken truth to power and shone a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

In a critical election year as well as a time of media austerity, independent journalism needs your continued support. The best way to do this is with a recurring donation. This month, we are asking readers like you who value truth and democracy to step up and support The Nation with a monthly contribution. We call these monthly donors Sustainers, a small but mighty group of supporters who ensure our team of writers, editors, and fact-checkers have the resources they need to report on breaking news, investigative feature stories that often take weeks or months to report, and much more.

There’s a lot to talk about in the coming months, from the presidential election and Supreme Court battles to the fight for bodily autonomy. We’ll cover all these issues and more, but this is only made possible with support from sustaining donors. Donate today—any amount you can spare each month is appreciated, even just the price of a cup of coffee.

The Nation does not bow to the interests of a corporate owner or advertisers—we answer only to readers like you who make our work possible. Set up a recurring donation today and ensure we can continue to hold the powerful accountable.

Thank you for your generosity.

Ad Policy