Friday, September 20, 2019

Cuban-American Community Divided Over New Cuba Rules

In yesterday’s shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba many Cuban-Americans are welcoming the measures made by President Barack Obama.  While the President, following through on his campaign promises of lifting all restrictions on travel and money transfers to the island by Cuban-Americans, is providing hope for many moderate and liberal Cuban-Americans  and is creating worry for conservative hardliners.

At ABC Charters owned by Maria Aral in Little Havana, Cuban-Americans were in line buying tickets to go see loved ones. Beatriz Mulet bought a ticket to go see her mom who is suffering from breast cancer. Mulet, whois delighted at policy changes said, “I voted for Obama. I thought that he was going to do it. I didn’t know it would be this fast.”

The new rules allow unlimited trips and expand whom you can visit – permitting trips not just to see close family members but also to see great aunts and second cousins. This was not allowed under President Bush.

Aral continues, “For us Cubans, cousins are as close as sisters, and under President Bush, my cousin was no longer my family. I couldn’t visit them.”

The changes outlined also allow U.S. companies to improve telephone and Internet service to the island nation – if able to reach agreements with the Cuban government.

The new rules don’t lift the U. S. trade embargo that has been in place for nearly 50 years. Nevertheless, they mark a significant change in the 78White House tone toward Cuba. White House officials refused to comment on future changes but said that now U.S. policy to Cuba is “not frozen in time.”

That’s also the case with South Florida’s Cuban-American population. Polls demonstrate that a majority of Cuban-Americans support lifting the travel and remittance restrictions-restrictions many once supported.

Travel agent Aral notes that second and third generation Cuban-Americans help account for the changing attitudes. However, just as important are new arrivals from Cuba. Currently there are 30,000 legal immigrants a year from Cuba.

Not all Cuban-Americans are delighted at the changes.  A significant number of conservative Cuban-Americans are uneasy about policies that weaken 50 years of hard-line opposition to the Castro regime. Republicans Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Cuban-American brothers who represent Miami in Congress, called Obama’s policy changes “a serious mistake.”

Influential radio commentator Ninoska Perez Castellon said Obama is extending a hand to Cuba while the Castro regime still has “a clinched fist.”

Perez said, “We feel it’s wrong to give this concession to the Cuba regime at a time when they have not shown any willingness to change. Cubans have no individual freedoms, prisons are full. So why grant this free ride to the Cuban regime at this point?”

The new rules currently only affect Cuban-Americans, but more changes in U.S. travel policy toward Cuba are possible. A bill currently being considered in Congress would lift the ban on travel to Cuba for all Americans.

NPR

Comments

  1. Susie Santana says

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  2. Andy Hardwick says

    Yes, there are some Cubans with NO family left in Cuba who want everything to continue as it is. It is time to try new strategies. If they don’t work, we’ll go with something else. When the U.S. is no longer seen as the enemy, who will the Castros or their “secuaces” blame for the ruined economy? It’s time to talk. Let’s see what can be done. Of course we must always mention the 75 (now less than that) who are still imprisoned for their views. Change came to the U.S. and it is coming to Cuba. No one can stop it. These new steps are meant to hasten the change.