Following up on the Lugar Report recommendations,
Today the Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama plans to lift U.S. restrictions on Cuba, allowing Cuban-Americans to visit families there as often as they like and to send them unlimited funds.
The $410 billion omnibus spending bill that Congress approved last month changed travel restrictions to once a year. That bill was followed by a controversial letter from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Sens. Menendez, Nelson and Martinez involving agricultural travel restrictions.
Aside from saying in today's announcement that President Obama "plans to lift restrictions" to allow Cuban-Americans to visit families there as often as they like, the timing is interesting, too:
The timing of the announcement is unclear, but several Cuba experts have speculated that it could come ahead of this month's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.The announcement did not specify whether the President would issue a signing statement or executive order. The embargo is law and as such would have to be lifted by an act of Congress.
I was talking to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) last Wednesday. He specified the conditions for lifting the embargo: I quote his words directly,
“If the Cuban government were to release all political prisoners, allow freedom of expression, and allow a true electoral process, then we could see lifting the embargo.”Last month the Cuban government ruled out any preconditions on improving relations.
On the island, the news of the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba by Americans has been greeted warmly. The Cuban media, however, remained silent.