Obama Could Lift Sanctions Against Cuba After Next Week’s Election, Says Congressman 8

By Michael E. Miller, Miami New Times

President Obama and Raul Castro

President Obama and Raul Castro

The Cuban expression “mañana, mañana.” is often interpreted by Anglos as an excuse for laziness. In fact, the saying speaks volumes about its island of origin. In a country that has been led by one Castro or another for more than half a century, what hope can there be that tomorrow will be any different from today?

Earlier this month, that question brought several dozen experts, academics, and journalists to Columbia Journalism School in Manhattan. Optimism was evident in the conference’s title — Covering Cuba in an Era of Change — as well as in the presentations, which included strong hints that the embargo’s days are numbered.

Gregory Craig, former White House counsel under Barack Obama, said the president already has the legal power to lift most of the sanctions that have crippled Cuba since the fall of the Soviet Union. Although Congress probably would refuse to officially overturn the embargo, Obama could — and should — instantly normalize diplomatic relations and allow Americans to travel to the island, Craig said.

Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern outlined a six-month window in which Obama is most likely to make a move, beginning after next week’s midterm elections and concluding with the Summit of the Americas in late April.

If Obama and Raúl Castro both attend as predicted, it will be the first official meeting between two countries’ leaders since Raúl and Fidel swept down from the Sierra Maestra.

“We are reassured [by the White House] that people are working on it,” McGovern said of a U.S.-Cuba policy change. “The stars seem to be aligned.”

Many roadblocks remain, however. McGovern warned that any rapprochement would require dealing with both Alan Gross — the USAID contractor imprisoned in Cuba since 2011 for distributing satellite phones without a permit — and the three surviving members of the “Cuban Five,” the Castro agents who spied on Miami’s exile community.

Easing the embargo would also cost Obama politically. “I think part of the reluctance is that [the administration] will get some pushback from people who are in pretty serious positions,” McGovern said, including Miami’s hard-line Cubans.

Perhaps the most concrete evidence that things are already changing on the island was the presence of three Cuban journalists at the conference. Miriam Celaya, Elaine Díaz, and Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo have all been allowed to leave under recently relaxed travel restrictions. Celaya is scheduled to return to Havana this week, while Díaz and Pardo are on yearlong academic fellowships.

But Celaya and Pardo hardly painted a promising picture of their homeland. Celaya said she had been blocked from entering the library because of her journalism. Other reporters had been beaten and imprisoned, Pardo said. Both described having to share articles via paquetes, or troves of documents on flash drives. And Pardo said Cuba’s infamous state security apparatus remained intact despite the growth of internet on the island.

“Our own [Edward] Snowden would not survive, would not escape,” he warned. “Our own Snowden would be shot on the spot.”

Ultimately, despite the talk of Obama ending the embargo and ushering in change in Cuba, Pardo feared that the solution was still, as it has been for 50 years, “biological.”

In other words: when the Castros kick the bucket.

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8 comments

  1. This requires a major freaking letter to President Obama. Whats the problem here, is it human rights for the Cuban people? not really at all. This is about the national security of this country and a whole bunch of rogue nations setting up shop right now as we speak 90 miles from US shores.
    I hope that our President isn’t dumb to think that engaging with the Cástro brothers will bring the US anything good. We in America don’t need Cuba for anything, really. It is the Castro’s that are really really really desperate here. Oil prices r down and Venezuela is not doing well at all.
    I do not understand why it is that all of these news outlets are writing op eds all of sudden on Cuba. Whats the deal there? Nothing.. It is the prospect of the Democracts loosing big that has the Castro clan worried. Thats whats changed. GOP winning and President Obama loosing mandate and credibility.
    I see all of these journalists, all of the sudden becoming interested in the :”lifting of the sanctions: WTF? Is this a coordinated effort? Yes, of course it has to be. Theres nothing new under the sun for them to report anything on Cuba,they are simply reporting whatever the regime wants. You know, no wonder media outlets are firing their journalists. They’ve become activists. There is no “news”to be reported on Cuba, its just opinion, sent directly from Havana. 😦

  2. First of all, the so called Cuban expression—both in USA and in Cuba—you allege as “mañana, mañana” does no exist as any expression designated linguistically as “cubanismos”, for except, in your stereotypical mind and within the realm of your lack of in-depth knowledge about cuban culture, whetehr here in the U.S. or in the island pof Cuba. So let´s start with this. The next thing you´re going to say is; cubans like a “siesta” in the afternoon and even perhaps also allege we cubans like to express goodbye by saying “hasta la vista”. Nothing could be further from the reality. I remember “twisting the tables” anytime someone would say things to pin in a corner how cubans are–or are not–by resorting to a very endearing passage in my life while growing up in the United States as a Cuban American in Miami and attending Miami Dade College and thereafter the University of Miami. I said at the Federation of Cuban Students at that time: “President Kennedy once stated: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” We cubans have given this famaous phrase a whole new different meaning and I offer you now: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what Cuban American Refugees are about to do in your country, Washington DC and Miami Dade County that you haven´t done yet”. If that is not the antithesis of a “mañana, mañana” type alleged attitude then I do not know what is. And that is excatly what we Cuban Americans have done in the U.S.: work hard, today not “mañana mañana” and prosper today and for the future. From the Cuban American at the lowest level of the economic totem pole cleaning hotel rooms, to the Chairman of the worldwide icono-classic American company named Coca Cola (and for over 28 years), to the Chairman of Kellogs. Cuban Americans have excelled and not with a so called “mañana, mañana” attitude as you allege as being a Cuban expression. It´s time to open up Diplomatic relations with Cuba, never mind the trade embargo. The big picture is tha Chineese spy on the U.S. and vice versa, the Russians spy on the U.S. and vice-versa and every country watches each other in a changing world with new emerging economic societies where such is the lay of the land throughout the globe. Fact is over 62% of Cuban Americans want Diplomatic relations restored bewteen the U.S. and Cuba. But there seems to be a whole money-making Cuba themed media infrastructure that will be out of business as son as the embargo ends. For instance, this columm entitled Cuba Confidential will be moot and irrelevant. There´s always two side of interests, or more, for every controversial theme, specially in politics..

  3. This requires a major freaking letter to President Obama.

    ANSWER:
    Alina, writing a “freaking” letter to the President will not do a darn thing. Why? because you–first–need to write a letter to the entire U.S. Congress and the entire U.S. Senate and then have lunch at the State Department. Finally, you need to change and overturn the opinions of the majority of Americans and Cuban Americans as citizens of this nation. The end result of this effort will yield the finding that the majority wants the trade embargo against Cuba ended. Then if you still have energy and interest in what you suggest, you can resort to consult the Constitution of the United States of America and you will quickly see the yardstick to our U.S. government. I´d say and affirm you are wasting your time with your position.

    Whats the problem here, is it human rights for the Cuban people? not really at all. This is about the national security of this country and a whole bunch of rogue nations setting up shop right now as we speak 90 miles from US shores.

    ANSWER:
    I disagree with you. The problem here is not what you allege without proof, it is that the U.S., as a nation, wishes to restore Diplomatic relations with Cuba, just 90 miles from our shores, the same way as it did with China when a Republican President Richard Nixon took the historic first step over three decades ago to restore Diplomatic ties with the People´s Republic of China,166 times larger than Cuba. If it was good for China and everything that occurred thereafter,it will be great for Cuba, its people and the standard of living and the amplification of freedoms in the island. Factor that to your incorrect allegation.

    I hope that our President isn’t dumb to think that engaging with the Cástro brothers will bring the US anything good. We in America don’t need Cuba for anything, really. It is the Castro’s that are really really really desperate here. Oil prices r down and Venezuela is not doing well at all.

    ANSWER:
    I fail to see the correlations you have just made here between your expressions “Venezuela is not doing well at all”. “Oil prices are down”. “It is the Castros that are really, rellay, really are desperate here”. The fact is, Ms. Brouwer, oil prices are down because America is able to produce more oil domestically now from oil fracking and also the reduced consumption experienced. Because Cuba has a better, much better diplomatic image and better relationships with most Latin American countries tan the U.S. does, it is in the best interest of the U.S. to restore ties with Cuba and such an occurence will serve to alay and minimize U. S. antagonism throughout Latin America, now such an image sacrificed because radical Cuban Americans want to take hostage the Diplomatic best interests of U.S. foreign policy of this nation called The United States of America and not called “The United States of Cuban Americans.” Based on present situation hundreds of thousands of new Cubans will be coming over to the U.S. from the island of Cuba, if deplorable economic conditions persist. That is not in the best interest of the United States, because given a scenario of a growing and expanssionary Cuban economy in Cuba, Cubans will not immigrate to the U.S. anymore as Cuban Americans never did throughout history. There were more Americans living in Cuba before Castro than Cubans living in the U.S.

    I do not understand why it is that all of these news outlets are writing op eds all of sudden on Cuba. Whats the deal there? Nothing. It is the prospect of the Democracts loosing big that has the Castro clan worried. Thats whats changed. GOP winning and President Obama loosing mandate and credibility.

    ANSWER:
    Because Cuba is “news” everyday and because Miami has become the center of worldwide news generation and a news production link and base for news outlets and because Cuban Americans and transplanted Latin Americans are an overwhelming factor here. Can´t you see that. This started happening over twenty years ago.

    I see all of these journalists, all of the sudden becoming interested in the :”lifting of the sanctions: WTF? Is this a coordinated effort? Yes, of course it has to be. Theres nothing new under the sun for them to report anything on Cuba,they are simply reporting whatever the regime wants. You know, no wonder media outlets are firing their journalists. They’ve become activists. There is no “news”to be reported on Cuba, its just opinion, sent directly from Havana. 😦

    ANSWER:
    That makes the sounds like the oil when it greases the wheels of “Cuban radical rhetoric”, conspiracy theories and all.
    I, personally, can´t wait to go back to my homeland after arriving here in the U.S., in 1961, at age eight.

  4. Greg Craig was Bill Clinton’s lawyer when the president was charged with lying under oath about adulterous philadering with Monica Lewinsky. In 2001, he represented the Castro dynasty in the Elian Gonzalez case, charging $400 an hour and making more than $100,000. In 2008, Craig deserted the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign to support Obama’s candidacy. In consequence, Obama named him his first White House counsel. When Craig’s ability to draft executive orders was challenged, especially the closing of the Guantanamo prison, he was forced to resign in less than a year. This disloyal, ambulance-chasing lawyer, should not be taken serious.

  5. Pingback: Mintiendo... qué bien te queda el papel. Después de todo parece que esa es tu forma de ser. - Cuba Estado Español del Caribe

  6. Pingback: La vida es un carnaval - Neo Club Press Miami FL | Neo Club Press Miami FL

  7. What are you confirming, here, that power and money go hand-on-hand? This is not uniuque to Cuba, its rather commonplace to all governments. Power and money are not mutually exclusive. But, wow! what a great reveleation. Now if you want to look at it froma purely cold analysis and perspective know that the difference is: the trade embargo aimed at Cuba is strangling the economic standards of its people, the average cuban citizen´s ability to enter a fair standard and equitable comercial environment to raise economic expectations and outcomes.

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