Obama opens Cuba to U.S. tourists, eases trade restrictions – MarketWatch

It is Obama’s decision to allow individuals to legally travel to Cuba, however, that is poised to have the most noticeable impact on average Americans, essentially lifting a 50-year prohibition against visiting Cuba as tourists. The new provision is broad enough to allow American travelers to go to Cuba on their own and justify a visit simply by filling their schedules with what most would consider tourist activities, such as visiting galleries and eating in privately owned restaurants.

Source: Obama opens Cuba to U.S. tourists, eases trade restrictions – MarketWatch


  1. “U.S. politics. Apart from approval from Cuban authorities, the U.S. also needs to get those agreements in place. And while some Congressional leaders may agree to ease Cuba restrictions, others may not agree to fully overturn rules prohibiting leisure travel to Cuba this year. That said, President Obama may end restrictions via executive order when Congress recesses at the end of the year.”


  2. “President Obama has significant powers at his disposal to make the U.S. trade and travel embargoes on Cuba meaningless, though action by Congress is required to formally lift the sanctions.

    Six separate laws dictate the terms of sanctions on Cuba. They range from the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.”


  3. “”The administration wants to do as much as it can unilaterally before the clock runs out,” said a person who has been briefed on Obama’s strategy.

    What remains to be seen, however, is whether Obama can prod Cuba’s prickly Communist government to reciprocate, at least with modest economic reforms that would help ensure his policy sticks.

    Cuba’s leaders have been slow to loosen their grip on the island’s state-run economy. That plus strict limits that remain under the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba has made many American firms wary.

    Obama’s critics accuse him of giving up too much in return for too little from Cuban President Raul Castro and now taking a premature “victory lap.””


  4. “Gross was arrested after traveling under a program under the U.S. Agency for International Development to deliver satellite phones and other communications equipment to the island’s small Jewish population.
    Cuban officials charged he was trying to foment a “Cuban Spring.” In 2011, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to set up an Internet network for Cuban dissidents “to promote destabilizing activities and subvert constitutional order.”
    Gross’ lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told CNN last month the years of confinement have taken their toll on his client. Gross has lost more than 100 pounds and is losing his teeth. His hips are so weak that he can barely walk and he has lost vision in one eye. He has also undertaken hunger strikes and threatened to take his own life.
    With Gross’ health in decline, a bipartisan group of 66 senators wrote Obama a letter in November 2013 urging him to “act expeditiously to take whatever steps are in the national interest to obtain [Gross’s] release.”
    The three Cubans released as a part of the deal belonged the so-called Cuban Five, a quintet of Cuban intelligence officers convicted in 2001 for espionage. They were part of what was called the Wasp Network, which collected intelligence on prominent Cuban-American exile leaders and U.S. military bases.
    The leader of the five, Gerardo Hernandez, was linked to the February 1996 downing of the two civilian planes operated by the U.S.-based dissident group Brothers to the Rescue, in which four men died. He is serving a two life sentences. Luis Medina, also known as Ramon Labanino; and Antonio Guerrero have just a few years left on their sentences.
    The remaining two — Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez — were released after serving most of their 15-year sentences and have already returned to Cuba, where they were hailed as heroes.”


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