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Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 06 April 2013

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cuban embargopolitics
tobacco legislation


 



In 2003, Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Republican Representative Chuck Hagel of Nebraska introduced another ultimately unsuccessful bill in Congress that sought to lift the trade embargo.

Later that year, a bipartisan group of ten Senators banded together to promote an end to the embargo, calling themselves the “Cuba Working Group.” The senators stated in a letter, “We believe that the American people can have greater influence on Cuban society by developing a relationship with the Cuban people.”

 



In September if 2003, Rep. Flake authored a bill that would end travel restrictions for U.S. citizens visiting Cuba. The bill passed in the House but died in the Senate.

One reason the embargo has survived all these years is the political power of the Cuban American community in Florida, a state that had long been considered crucial to winning the Presidency. At least it was until 2012, when Barack Obama could have been elected to his second term even if he hadn’t won Florida.

Also, the current generation of Cuban Americans is younger, more liberal and more open to change, especially since they have no fond memories of life in Cuba before the revolution. At least some of those young Cuban Americans are open to changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.

The changes that have been brewing for decades may finally be happening under the Obama administration, as lifting the embargo seems to be one of the few ideas that has support on both sides of the aisle.

Just a month after President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, a report was released by Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the subject of ending economic sanctions against Cuba.

Luger wrote, “After 47 years ... the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of ‘bringing democracy to the Cuban people.’ The current U.S. policy has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. Nevertheless, we must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests.”

 



In December 2012, New Mexico Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman called for lifting the Cuban embargo following the end of a trade prohibition against Russia that had remained in place since the Cold War.

In an address to Congress, Bingaman said, “Another out-of-date policy from the Cold War is the trade embargo on Cuba. The world has changed, and it is long past time that we change our policies with Cuba. ... It does not make our country safer and it does no good to the people of Cuba.”

Of the Castro regime, he stated, “That regime has survived 50 years of sanctions. Old age and ill health will end their rule rather than the embargo. A better approach is building relationships between the people and businesses here and the people and businesses in Cuba.”

More and more people in power are coming around to that opinion. Next week, we’ll look at how the Obama administration is handling the embargo. Are we likely to see any significant changes before the current president leaves office?






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