For many years, legal professionals and scholars in economics argued over the benefits and costs of the trade embargo which was put on Cuba by the U. S. Over the course of years, Cuban Americans were not only deprived of a chance to reunite with their families; they did not have the legal right to provide their family members residing in Cuba with financial support. Now, the new American President has come to fulfill one of his major promises – to lift restrictions, which Cuban Americans faced in their need for travel and financial cooperation with Cuba.
Although Obama’s decision does not eliminate the trade embargo, it expands the rights of common Cubans and Cuban Americans and will certainly become the first step toward restoring trade and political relationships with Cuba. For years, the majority of Cuban Americans has been torn from their families and was unable to maintain close relationships with their Cuban relatives. Under American restrictions, Cuban Americans were limited to one visit per year and were not allowed to support their families materially (Weinemann, 2004).
Now, as Barack Obama looks further into the need to improve relations with Cuba, lifting restrictions will also improve the wellbeing of many Cubans and will provide them with a chance to reunite with their American family members. Moreover, it appears that under the pressure of legal restrictions, Cuban Americans learnt to avoid legal responsibility for violating the requirements regarding traveling and financial transactions. “They get around the restriction by traveling illegally through third countries, just like the vast majority of Americans who travel to Cuba.
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Cuban Americans carry or send cash back home at a rate of $1 billion a year” (Weinemann, 2004), as a result, lifting restrictions is the means to legalize what has been illegal for many years, and to improve relations between Cuba and the U. S. Lifting restrictions on traveling and financial transactions to Cuba is a very pleasing fact. Beyond expanding traveling activity and financial operations between the two countries, this Obama’s decision is likely to cause a strategic political and economic change.
Statistics suggests that Florida alone loses $750 annually due to the trade embargo (Weinemann, 2004); Florida ports could maintain positive relationships with other Cuban enterprises and could thus turn into another source of revenues for the state budget. Moreover, given that these are the citizens that promote changes, lifting restrictions will provide the Cubans with better stimuli for a major democratic change. The more citizens are allowed to visit Cuba and to develop mutually beneficial relationships with the U.S, the more probable it is that Cuba will choose a more democratic way of development (Nuccio, 1998).
Certainly, lifting restrictions on financial transactions is the topic of hot debate. Opponents of Obama’s decision are confident that additional finances will work to support the Cuban government in its desire to restrict democratic freedoms and to promote dictatorship and political isolation. Unfortunately, Obama’s opponents forget that “if the U. S. embargo is successful in its objective of denying resources to the Cuban government, it must also have negative effects on the lives of ordinary Cubans” (Nuccio, 1998). The political history of Cuba suggests that not the government, but common citizens are the primary victims of the embargo.
Due to the embargo and travel restrictions, citizens cannot avoid the sense of hatred and hostility toward the neighboring country; Cuban Americans are no longer enthusiastic about these restrictions. More than 1. 2 million Cuban Americans vote for lifting the current restrictions and welcome Obama’s decision (Weinemann, 2004), which also means that their personal lives will change for the better and the majority of their personal issues will be resolved.
Lifting restrictions for Cubans regarding traveling to Cuba and sending money to their family members will improve the quality of relationships between Cuba and the U. S. People will be given a chance to reunite with their families. Families will be given an opportunity to receive financial support from their relatives abroad. Finally, lifting these restrictions is the first step toward establishing democratic relationships with Cuba and expanding international trade.
- Nuccio, R. A. (1998). Cautious optimism. Harvard International Review, 20 (4): 24-27.
- Weinmann, L. (2004). Washington’s irrational Cuba policy. World Policy Journal, 21 (1): 22-31.
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