Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 19 April 2013

User Rating: / 1

beyoncecuban embargo
jay ztobacco legislation

The appointments of two critics of the embargo would suggest that the Obama administration might be amenable to the idea of normalizing relations with Cuba. While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoted a hardline position against the country, her successor Sen. John Kerry has a history of opposing the bans on travel and trade.

While representing Massachusetts in the Senate, Kerry proposed a bill to lift the travel ban. He also criticized U.S. policy on Cuba as a failure that “actually furnished the Castro regime with an all-purpose excuse to draw attention away from its many shortcomings.”

Another new cabinet member who has been openly critical of sanctions against Cuba is Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a former Republican Senator from Nebraska.

Do these appointments signal a change in the government’s attitude toward Cuban relations? One person who thinks so is Silvia Wilhelm, whose business arranges for cultural trips to Cuba. She told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “They have very different ideas about Cuba policy than the status quo. To us, this is a ray of optimism. They have worked this issue for years, advocating for change. Those of us who are trying to see a change on this side of the Florida Straits have every reason to be optimistic that something is bound to happen in the second Obama term when it comes to Cuba.”

Just last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor called on the Obama administration to lift both the restrictions on travel to Cuba and the trade embargo. The Tampa Democrat spoke to the Tampa Bay Times after returning from a fact-finding trip to the country.


“Cuba is changing. They have embarked on economic reforms that the United States of America should promote. The United States of America now should normalize relations and begin a constructive dialogue with the island nation.”

Castor brought up the generation changes in Cuba, pointing out that Fidel Castro is no longer in power and called his brother Raul “a much more practical ruler.” She added, “They are still a hard-core communist nation, but they are embarking on market reforms in their economy that deserve encouragement.”

Castor implored the Obama administration “to open talks to lead to greater trade and travel opportunities,” but acknowledged that there are still problems with the Cuban government.

“This should not be done with blinders on, however. There are still very significant human rights challenges in Cuba. It is still, to many extents, a repressive regime that does not allow citizens to enjoy all of the human rights that we all enjoy.

“But after 50 years of an embargo and isolation that's proved that it hasn't worked, it's time to try something new and refresh our relationship.”

One Republican who agrees with Castor is Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who approved of the Carters’ jaunt to Cuba, tweeting, “Fine by me. Every American should have the right to travel there.” Flake has been a longtime advocate of normalizing relations with Cuba.

While Castor certainly has some viable points, lifting the embargo and allowing U.S. citizens to travel freely to Cuba is going to be a hard sell. There are numerous supporters of the embargo who aren’t going to make changing the policy easy.

As mentioned in last week’s column, Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, who have South Florida districts with large numbers of Cuban-Americans, demanded an investigation from the Treasury Department on the trip by Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Pro-embargo lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Carone accused Beyonce of being a tool of “Castro propaganda,” while Tampa lawyer and anti-Castro activist Ralph Fernandez slammed Rep. Castor, saying, “She joins Beyoncé, Flake and all the terrorists of the Western hemisphere in their expression of solidarity with the repression and tyranny of the Cuban regime.”

Terrorists? The passion, however misplaced, of the anti-Castro crowd shows that even with widespread support for ending the embargo, the fight won’t be easy.

Add comment

Security code


Sign Up to our


Member Cigar Reviews | Staff Cigar Reviews | Cigar Videos | One on One Interviews | Cigar News | Puffcast | Cigar Forums | Lifestyle | Partners | Contact
© 2015 by Caputo Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms of Service - Privacy Policy - Ad Blockers Suck! Why? Daily Digest

Thank you for your interest in the Daily Digest. Get notified of all new content on in our free Daily Digest. To subscribe, enter your email address below and click the subscribe button.

Email Address:

Email will come from "". Please whitelist this email address.

Cancel and Return to page