Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hurricanes Damage Cuban Embargo

The Washington Post reports on changes in attitudes about the embargo against Cuba because of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

For the first time in the 47-year history of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, Washington has offered direct aid to the island’s Communist government, long dominated by Fidel Castro and his younger brother, Raúl, who is now nominally in charge. The offer marks a slight softening of the Bush administration’s policy toward Cuba, motivated in part by a new generation of Cuban Americans who think a more open approach to the island during a time of political transition could help bring about a lasting change in government.

But even the most hawkish Cuban exile groups are pushing the Bush administration to go much further. Traditionally a voice for greater isolation of the Castro government, the Cuban exile lobby has asked Congress to lift the four-year-old rules that limit Cuban Americans to sending $300 every three months to immediate family on the island and to making just one trip to Cuba every three years. Some have even proposed a temporary suspension of the trade embargo, a cause taken up by a few members of Congress.

Waiving the limits and relaxing the embargo would call the Castros’ bluff and get much-needed aid to the people.