With President Obama already fulfilling some of his campaign promises, Cuban-Americans are looking forward to him following through with the platform that won him their vote. While campaigning in Florida, Obama spoke of reversing President Bush’s 2004 policy that levied restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba for Cuban-Americans. The editorial board of The Miami Student unanimously endorses the easing of such restrictions.
Sending money abroad should be a choice for a family to make. The government should not play a role in this personal matter. Lifting the financial restrictions currently in place will benefit both Cuban-Americans and their Cuban relatives. Even a little bit of aid can help families on the island. More importantly, eased restrictions offer a chance to improve relations between Cuban-Americans and their families in Cuba. People shouldn’t be punished for the unfortunate political situation at home-U.S. policy should target the government of Cuba instead.
While some Cuban-Americans also have lobbied for Obama to lift the embargo that has been in place for nearly 50 years, Obama didn’t make any promise to do so and such action is unlikely. Still, Obama must tread carefully here given the recent voting shift that brought him the support of Cuban-Americans, which has traditionally been a reliable Republican base.
Although Raul Castro also wants to see the trade restrictions eased, he must prepare for smaller steps. Easing travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans can be seen as an act of reciprocity for Castro’s easing of travel restrictions on Cubans. Still, Obama has said that before any change to the trade restrictions will be considered, Castro must take steps to democratize his country. Castro has already stated that he is open to a dialogue with the new President, as long as Obama adheres to his campaign rhetoric by following a policy of engagement and abandoning the traditional carrot and stick model. It seems the world, not just the American population, is counting on the fulfillment of campaign promises.
In addition to providing tangible benefits to Cuban-Americans and their families, easing remittance and travel restrictions will help improve the image of America. Rather than the neglectful northern neighbor, we will be the neighbor who lends that cup of sugar. But while we open our hands to the people of Cuba, we won’t naively embrace their leader by easing the embargo until he reforms their government.