Cuba: Obama’s moves are not enough

By Progreso Weekly

havana-flags-HAVANA TIMES — Granma, Cuba’s Communist Party daily, reported today (Jan. 16) on the publication in Washington of new measures affecting trade and travel relations between Cuba and the United States. The points the newspaper makes are sure to be raised in the upcoming talks between U.S. and Cuban officials beginning next Wednesday (Jan. 21) in Havana.

Because of its significance, Progreso Weekly has translated the article, titled “New U.S. Measures Regarding Cuba Will Take Effect: The Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Remains.” The translator’s clarifications appear [in brackets.]

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Yesterday, Jan. 15, the United States government announced that, beginning today, the measures announced by President Barack Obama last Dec. 17, 2014, eliminating some of the restrictions on trade and travel by certain categories of U.S. citizens to Cuba, will come into effect.

A preliminary reading of the regulations issued by the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce indicates that these [measures] modify the application of some aspects of the blockade against Cuba.

Although the total ban on travel to Cuba is not suppressed, something that requires approval by Congress, some restrictions are eliminated for the travel of U.S. citizens and permanent residents in that country who qualify within the 12 authorized categories.

Among others, [Washington] eliminates the limits to the expenditures that travelers from the U.S. can make in Cuba and allows them to use credit and debit cards, and authorizes airlines and travel agencies to organize visits and hire the services of insurance companies.

However, no approval was given to U.S. Americans to travel to Cuba by sea.

On the other hand, one of the measures announced says that the limit on the [cash] remittances will increase from 500 dollars to 2,000 dollars per quarter.

Restrictions on exports from the United States to Cuba are maintained, especially those involving high-technology products, with the exception of limited sales of construction materials, agricultural equipment and tools that may be sold to private individuals, apparently through Cuban companies.

Still prohibited is the export of Cuban products to the U.S. market, except what a limited number that U.S. visitors may take back to their country, for a value not to exceed 400 dollars, of which 100 dollars may be in tobacco and rum.

Telecommunications were dealt with broadly in the regulations, corresponding to the U.S. policy objective of trying to increase its influence on Cuban society. On this basis, the info-communications sector is the only one authorized to make investments in infrastructure and sell services, software, devices and equipment — though not high-technology — to State enterprises.

On the other hand, U.S. American financial institutions are permitted to open accounts in Cuban banks for those transactions that are authorized by both countries. But there is no reciprocal treatment: our banks cannot do the same in the United States.

The regulations do not modify the strong current restrictions for maritime transportation although, beginning now, ships that carry food, medicine, medical equipment and materials for emergency situations to Cuba from third countries will not have to wait 180 days to dock on U.S. ports, as heretofore.

Core aspects of the policy of blockade that affects Cuba were not modified, among them the use of the dollar in our international financial transactions, the acquisition in other markets of equipment and technology that contain more than 10 percent of U.S. American components, the possibility to trade with subsidiaries of U.S. companies in third countries and the importation by the U.S. of merchandise that contains Cuban raw materials.

The measures announced constitute a step in the right direction, but there’s still a long road to travel to disassemble many other aspects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade through the use of the President’s executive prerogatives, and to enable the U.S. Congress to put an end to this policy once and for all.

41 thoughts on “Cuba: Obama’s moves are not enough

  • January 16, 2015 at 11:38 am
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    I should hope that these regulatory changes which relax restrictions on trade and tourism with the Castro regime will be met with improvements to human rights in Cuba. But I am not holding my breath……

    Reply
    • January 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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      Improvements to human rights?

      “Two Cuban political prisoners from the list of 53 that had been negotiated by President Obama and General Raul Castro have been re-arrested.

      They are Rolando Reyes Rabanal and Luis Enrique Labrador.

      According to Hablemos Press, Rabanal and Labrador were arrested — along with other activists — as they sought to attend a meeting of the opposition group, Movement for a New Republic.

      Also arrested at the meeting was Lazara Maria Borrego Guzman, a member of The Ladies in White.

      Meanwhile, another opposition activist, Miguel Daniel Borroto Vazquez, was arrested outside his home. Borrot Vazquez in being held at the Castro detention center in Havana, known as El Vivac.”

      http://www.capitolhillcubans.com/2015/01/castro-re-arrests-cuban-dissidents-from.html

      Reply
      • January 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm
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        So human right for exile Cubans is the right to engage in subversive activities? If you receive money from the US you are a subversive. The “Damas” de Blanco should be called Red White and Blue for their financial supporter. What would happen in the US if s group received financial support from the MININT?????

        Reply
        • January 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm
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          Read this carefully because it appears that you struggle to understand the concept of freedom of speech. If the frickin’ al Queda wished to speak at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., they would be allowed to do so as long as they did not advocate violence. Every Friday afternoon, in mosques all over the US, Imams speak out against the US. Russia Today and Al Jazeera broadcast in the US. The KKK holds rallies and marches. Do I need to go on? Freedom of speech does not allow you to yell “Fire” in a crowded movie theater but it does allow you to rail against your government. If the funding behind your anti-US rhetoric is from China, Russia or piss ant Cuba, what difference does it make. Freedom is freedom.

          Reply
          • January 16, 2015 at 7:36 pm
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            There is a big difference and its that the united States has declared Cuba an enemy and has a 50 plus year blockade on it. As a matter of fact if you receive money from a foreign agent that has been trying to destroying your country then you are acting on behalf of that government. This is illegal in most countries of the world including the United States. Most of these so called dissidents have no grassroots following in Cuba. They are propped up by the US governments and others. A good example is Yoani Sanchez. Yoani Sanchez has no type of following in Cuba yet the Western Media make her out to be like a Nelson Mandela. She is no Nelson Mandela. Yoani Sanchez is a manufactured dissident who can’t even draw flies from Cuba to support her. Basically she’s in it for the money as most of those dissidents are. Name one socalled dissident who has significant grassroots followers in Cuba. You will not be able to name one. The US interest section even admitted this.

          • January 17, 2015 at 9:37 am
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            OK, now you resort to the “state of siege” excuse. The problem with that argument is the $5 billion of remittances and tourism revenues that the US sends to Cuba. The US is Cuba’s 5th largest trading partner. Hard to justify the siege mentality from a country that provides that level of support. Lacking the freedom of speech and assembly within Cuba, is it any surprise that dissidents have little local contact? Don’t confuse that lack of a vocal following with a lack of support. Most Cubans would likely support free speech if they had a choice. Most Cubans would support open and independent elections. Most Cubans want more freedom. This is exactly what the dissident community wants. The Castros have effectively oppressed the dissident community. To qualify the dissidents as ineffective in the face of this oppression is unfair. I have never met Yoani Sanchez. I suppose you haven’t either. We can therefore only know what motivates her by what she says is her motivation. To parrot what the regime says about her is idiotic. Of course they will choose to debase and undermine her credibility. To be accurate, the US Interests Section “admitted” the obvious. Most dissidents are unknown and poorly organized. So what? Most Cubans would prefer to spend their time and money on what to eat every day. Existential issues like freedom and democracy take a back seat to an empty stomach.

          • January 17, 2015 at 10:51 am
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            Most reporters say NO ONE knows who the damas de Blanco or Yoni Sánchez are, they are a legend in their own minds and yours!

          • January 17, 2015 at 12:23 pm
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            So what? The principles of freedom and democracy are at issue here. Not the popularity contest between Berta Soler and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura.

          • January 18, 2015 at 8:43 am
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            Actually, unpopularity, no one knows them, their only claim to fame is around Calle 8 in Miami…

          • January 18, 2015 at 10:51 am
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            You’re stuck on popularity. The issue is what they stand for, not whether or not you know their names.

          • January 18, 2015 at 5:41 pm
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            They stand for greed and money!

          • January 19, 2015 at 8:58 am
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            As you know, popularity translates into votes, none of these dissidents are known by the Cuban people Canel Diaz is…the Sunday “march” actually stroll of the “Damas” de blanco had about 20-30 people, really? Would like for them to march through el Cerro they would get booed at the least…..what will these viejas do when the USAID program ends? Work? I hope so…

          • January 19, 2015 at 10:21 am
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            You are still missing the point. When my mother marched with Dr. King, the marchers knew very well what neighborhoods they could and could not march through. That did not make their cause any less valid. You say that there were only 20-30 people. Sometimes there are less than that. These 20-30 people are very brave and clearly committed to the cause of freedom and democracy. You want to stain their commitment with allegations of being paid mercenaries. Every cause must be funded somehow. Northern Jews in the US helped fund African-Americans freedom bus rides through the south. Like you, racists at the time leveled the same criticisms at people like my mother who were simply young people who wanted a better America for their children. My mother never met the northern Jews who bought her bus tickets, but it’s purchase did not create her passion to fight racism. If USAID helps to buy white clothes and gladiolas for the Damas de Blanco, so what? These brave women want a better Cuba for their children like my mom wanted a better America for me.

          • January 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm
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            Lord, now you are going to share you pedigree because your mom marched with MLK? Jesus!

          • January 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm
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            The Ladies in White bear a solid resemblance to the civil rights marchers of the 1960s. Your criticisms of the Ladies in White bear a striking resemblance to the racists comments levied against my mother and her fellow civil rights workers. You should see the new movie Selma to get an idea how ‘outside money’ helps support a righteous struggle without compromising the righteousness of that struggle.

          • January 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm
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            Unfortunately the resemblance is in your imagination, the marcher of the Civil Rights were not paid agents of a foreign government, suffered beatings and incarceration, dogs, your comparison is insulting ot the memory of these ladies, soem of whom are friends of mine and do work with me. They would be apalled by your comparison. Racist, maybe ageist but racist has to do with race not with “viejas.”

          • January 21, 2015 at 3:27 pm
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            Fifty years ago, people like you accused civil rights marchers of being paid agents of the USSR. My mother, who marched in Selma and sat-in in lunchrooms and was arrested, beaten by police, bitten by police dogs and spit on by onlookers still laughs at how ridiculous those accusations were. In time, we will share the same laugh at people who believe that the Ladies in White are paid mercenaries who do what they do for a paycheck. Why is it so hard for you to accept that not all Cubans are idiot robots who can’t think for themselves? Not everyone is a Castro supporter. By the way, my mother and her friends who marched with her, now in their 70s and 80s, are hardly appalled at my comments and very few of them are still working. Are you sure your “friends” actually marched?

          • January 22, 2015 at 10:56 am
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            There was no evidence on the Selma marchers as there is now from USAID of payment to members of “artificially created “civil society.” I have had very interesting conversations with people who do not support the revolution, some are good friends and also with those that support it which are the majority. Something that the Miami mafia can’t understand. So of course there are some who disagree but none of the ones I know would even consider taking money from the US and criticise the few who do. They have participated in assemblies and have criticized policies and did not end up in jail just like the 20 viejas were not arrested for their bad imitation of the heroic Selma marchers. My work is in the field of anti racism so many of my organization elders marched then and are still marching now. You should too march against abuses against young men of color or you don’t have a right to critique Cuba.

          • January 23, 2015 at 12:24 am
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            The Ladies in White don’t march for money and there is no proof that they do. US support helps these women survive. You know as well as I do that once you are labeled “dissident” you will lose your job. Your children will be denied University (University is for Revolutionaries, remember that?) and you will likely face PAID harassment in your neighborhood. Outside money helps to replace loss of salary. No one opposes the Castros in Cuba just for the money.

          • January 25, 2015 at 11:00 am
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            Good for those elders who must be well into their 70s and older who are still marching. The struggle against racism today will not be solved by marching. Today, it is social media. Believe me, I do my part.

          • January 25, 2015 at 12:31 am
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            What?????

          • January 25, 2015 at 10:57 am
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            What part don’t you understand? Get a grown-up to read and explain it to you.

          • January 18, 2015 at 5:39 pm
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            You don’t understand Moses because you don’t want to understand. You mention the 5 billion in remitances and you mention that the United States is Cuba’s 5th largest trading partner. First of those remittances occur despite the Blockade but its still peanuts compare to the damage that the Blockade has caused. AS for the US being Cuba’s 5th largest trading partner, I would say that is untrue because trading partner suggests the trade goes both ways and Cuba is not allowed to sell the US any of their products where as Cuba due to a special law that was lobbied for by agricultural interests is allowed to purchase food and that’s it and the Cubans have to pay in cash.As for the “dissidents” in Cuba, especially Yoani Sanchez. It has been more than proven that most if not all are paid agents of foreign governments, which again I repeat is illegal in most countries of the world including the United States. While I dont know Yoani Sanchez personally they are many that do including her Italian translator who no longer works with her and condemn her as greedy self opportunist. So Im not parroting the government. http://progresoweekly.us/yoani-denounced-italian-translator/ BY the way I live in the United States and I know this country’s history and politics very well. Everything that we accuse Cuba of happens tenfold in the USA including people wanting more freedom. Thats why voter turnout in the USA is low because most people realize the system is a rubber stamp system. We have an Oligarchy or Plutocracy that run this country. They have no right to tell Cuba how to run their country. Can you imagine what would happen to me if I were plotting with a foreign country to overthrow the country in which I live. I would go to jail right here in the USA.

          • January 17, 2015 at 10:49 am
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            Yes, meanwhile Mosques are attacked, the NAACP offices bombed, a Journalist James Risen was almost jailed for not revealing a source? Patriot Edward Snowden had to hide in Russian for revealing the unconstitutional violations of the law by the US… need I go on? Get it?

          • January 17, 2015 at 12:32 pm
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            Listen RODRIGVM. You are half right. The US is not perfect. I would be the last person to say that. Here is the difference between the problems in Cuba and the “problems” in the US you have chosen to justify Cuba’s problems. When there are bombings or prosecutions that threaten our civil liberties if not our very lives in the US, there is a free and independent media to report on these events. There is a loyal government opposition to defend the rights of the accused or threatened before the very same government to redress these grievances. IN CUBA (Read this part carefully) when civil liberties are threatened, when the government engages in alleged abuses of authority, there is no Granma to report on it. There is no NAACP or ACLU to file suit. There is nothing and no one to defend the weak against the strong. Even a sycophant for the regime like you can see and understand this difference.

          • January 18, 2015 at 8:42 am
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            I have never said Cuba has a bourgeois system of civil rights, while there is the damocles sword of the US (and their constant and annoying, criminal efforts to subvert) over the island (or are you going to deny this? Read Wikileaks cables from US on Cuba, read senate documents on efforts to assassinate Cuban leaders, until this could is removed, Cuba will feel paranoid. And as they said, you are not paranoid, they are really out to get you. Even these timid changes US has negotiated (Yes negotiated….) are also intended to continue subverting in a different way. Unfortunately, the US paid clowns instead of allowing the process to develop created instances to create more tension like the “performance” artist prank in the Plaza de la Revolucion? Great timing! These “dissidents” are the best friends the conservatives in Cuba have!

          • January 18, 2015 at 10:49 am
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            In other words, Cuba would be free except for the perceived threat imposed by the US? Is that what you are saying? Pleeeeease! Castro began taking away basic freedoms long before the US imposed the embargo. It’s what totalitarian regimes do. Why do you always assume that anyone who protests the regime is paid to do it? There is reason to hate Castro for free!

          • January 18, 2015 at 5:48 pm
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            Percieved threat? Nonsence! Where are you living on the moon? Are you denying that the US government has been trying to overthrow the Cuban revolution

          • January 19, 2015 at 9:03 am
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            I don’t know wehre you learned your Cuban history (probbaly from southern conservatives, if you read a balanced (not supportive of the Cuban revolution) Louis Perez, the most authoritative Cuban American historian, you will find that all that you said is incorrect. In fact there were factions inside the 26 de Julio, everyhting began to change with the attack by the US, the CIA gurerrillas etc which made the Cuban goverment leery of CIA subversion. When the subversion, either violent (103 assassination attacks!) stops you will see more openness. But Capitalism? Never will return to Cuba…Democratic Socialism? Yes….

          • January 19, 2015 at 10:08 am
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            The journey between “savage” capitalism and “totalitarian” socialism is a short one. If you feel better with “Democratic Socialism”, I have no problem with that. I am focused on the ‘Democratic’ part more than the Socialism. If Cubans, through open and independent elections choose for themselves to develop an economic structure similar to Canada’s or Sweden’s, it would be a helluva improvement over what they have now. If there exists an independent media free to openly criticize and persuade through editorial means, then that is light years better than the Granma toilet paper substitute that exists today. I do know my Cuba history and I learned it from a variety of academic and anecdotal sources, Cuban and foreign. It remains debatable the role and the timing of the CIA in Cuba. In fact, US influence in Cuba pre-dates the existence CIA. One thing is clear, the Castros and their communist beliefs have nothing to do with the CIA. Fidel and Raul were communists by their own efforts and not as a result of US ‘meddling’.

          • January 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm
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            One faction within 26 de Julio was headed by Huber Matos. He spoke out against the growing presence of Communists in the Revolutionary government around Fidel. So Fidel had him arrested and tossed into prison for 20 years.

            Matos paid the price for telling the truth.

          • January 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm
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            I agree Huber Matos was an injustice, I guess the US has never made mistakes? Like killing MLK, the Black Pnathers, black protesters, etc etc etc

          • January 21, 2015 at 9:52 am
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            Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by a criminal racist punk named James Earl Ray. He had no connection with the US government. He was captured, tried & convicted of murder and sentence to prison for 99 years.

            Your attempt to draw a comparison between the assassination of MLK by a lone nut, and the persecution of Huber Matos by Fidel Castro, is absurd.

          • January 21, 2015 at 3:31 pm
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            Your comparison is weak. What faults that exists in the US do not justify the problems in Cuba. Another major difference is that whatever mistakes made by Hoover’s FBI have since been admitted to. Does Fidel admit his mistake with Matos? Worse yet, he continues to do the same thing, Osvaldo Paya? Angel Santiesban? To name a few….

          • January 25, 2015 at 12:26 am
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            Mr Moses….”Americas Deadliest Export ..Democracy”? …..do ya “think” maybe??

          • January 25, 2015 at 11:03 am
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            Democracy? Deadly? Nope. Especially when compared to the lack thereof.

        • January 16, 2015 at 7:10 pm
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          “Human rights” include the right to speak one’s mind not getting beaten by the police and arrested. If the government gets to decide what is permissible free speech and what is not, then the people will have no freedom of speech ever.

          For your information, the MININT does have their mouthpieces in the US media. For instance, and this is just one of many, Arturo Lopez Levy. A “retired” MININT agent who is now an academic at the University of Denver. He’s also the cousin of Raul Castro’s son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, who is the director of GAESA.

          Reply
          • January 17, 2015 at 10:47 am
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            You mean the right to be beaten, attacked with armed personnel carriers, snipers like it is done now in the US? Human right like the killing of a 12 year old in Cleveland? Unfortunately, before you ask for right to subvert look at the behavior of the country you love so much. How many dissenters have been shot in Cuba?

  • January 17, 2015 at 2:10 pm
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    As expected, the Cuban government has greeted the changes to the sanctions in a positive manner. After all, they need dollars from America to reinforce any potential success of Cuba’s economic changes.
    We don’t know if Cuba will reciprocate by eliminating its tight control over foreigners hiring Cuban workers (as China and Vietnam did long ago), emend Law 118 to give foreigners to right to form partnerships with budding Cuban entrepreneurs, and enact measures giving Cubans the right to export and import goods and services from abroad. In fact, once the currency unification is complete, then Cuba will find it absolutely difficult to justify continuing the practice of having foreigners hire Cuban workers through the state and it will come to realize that the dire financial status of Cuba’s state-run import monopoly means it cannot afford to maintain total control over import of goods and services.

    Reply
  • January 20, 2015 at 7:06 pm
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    Whatever each side predicts the changes will come and rapidly. I still think the best way for implementing this would be to end the embargo and open a dialogue
    with Cuban expatriates to discuss how to fix the horrific situation that still runs rampant with a potentially rich and outstanding country. In short, whether anyone likes this or not change in inevitable!

    Reply

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