Hillary Clinton said, during her U.S. Senate confirmation hearing, that she echoed the sentiments of the new administration by wanting to lift family travel and money restrictions for Cuban-Americans. Clinton also hoped the government, in turn, would free political dissidents and open up their economy.
In an interview with Univision, Obama said he wanted to "loosen restrictions" so families could be united and send money to Cuba, but also said he was not in favor of lifting the current U.S. economic embargo.
"This is a good place to begin," Obama said. "It doesn't eliminate the embargo, but it does send a signal that we are open to holding conversations."
It's odd how the new administration must skirt around the Cuban issue -- it must show distrust and distance from Fidel Castro's Cuba to appease hardline Cuban-Americans, but also compassion to their families and the growing interest in the island nation from their children and grandchildren. Instead of opening up travel to the country, the administration (like those before it) wants its quid pro quo. Yet the growing number of Cuban-Americans, and other Americans, are questioning the decades-old sanctions and why freedom-loving Americans aren't allowed to travel there. Surely they are the best ambassadors of the American Dream and democracy?
The United Nations Human Rights Council released a report saying that America's 50-year economic stranglehold has cost Cuba $93 billion. The Cuban government blames much of its economic problems on the embargo and everyday Cubans are in agreement. But they also have an added grievance, the division of their families.
Perhaps its time to end the feud and let Americans see the real Cuba.
"Me, personally, I would go back in a heartbeat," Fabio Nick, a Cuban exile, told the Sun-Sentinel. "My kids want to see it. They'd love to see where we were born and the schools that we went to."
Photo of Cuba via Flickr by craig_352