President Barack Obama has relaxed controls over contact with Cuba. Reports the Washington Post:
The Treasury Department formally lifted nearly all U.S. restrictions on family travel to Cuba on Thursday, along with limits on how much money families can send to relatives on the island.
The department also eased regulations prohibiting U.S. telecommunications and satellite linkages between the United States and Cuba and licensing requirements for visitors engaged in agricultural and medical sales.
President Obama first announced most of the changes in April as part of a general opening that he said would allow Americans to reach out to the Cuban people, and he ordered Cabinet departments to take steps to implement the changes. Since then, the administration has also resumed a regular dialogue with the Cuban government on immigration issues and said it would move toward a resumption of direct mail service between the two countries.
This is a good first step, but only a first step.
The Castro Brothers & Co. are a nasty lot, but the U.S. has been trying for nearly 50 years to starve the regime into submission. The Castros’ dictatorship survived the end of the Soviet Union and Soviet subsidies, and appears to be in no danger of collapsing in the near future.
It’s time to try an alternative approach: eliminating travel, trade, and investment restrictions. The Europeans, Canadians, and Latin Americans are all active in Cuba. When I visited Cuba (legally) a few years ago, I stayed at a Dutch hotel. U.S. sanctions have no impact other than to eliminate any chance for Americans to promote change through dialogue and contact. Liberalizing relations might not be likely to result in democracy. But current policy is an abject failure. Indeed, the embargo actually has aided the regime by allowing it to blame its failure on outsiders.
President Obama ran for president promising “change.” This is one issue where he should deliver on his promise.
Doug Bandow, American Conservative Defense Alliance
This blog post is reprinted from Campaign for Liberty with permission.