Disturbing Report from the Transition Team
Tim Shipman has a long story in the December 28th issue of the British newspaper The Telegraph that cites "a Latin American adviser to Mr Obama's transition team" who conveys disturbing information:
First to go under Mr Obama will be rules, brought in by George Bush in 2004, that say Cuban-Americans can only return home once every three years. In addition to annual visits, the amount of money they can take will be raised from $300 to $3,000.
An adviser to Mr Obama said: "Cubans will be less dependent on the state for money and they will have greater contact with their relatives in the US. That can only aid understanding." Those changes require only a presidential order. The adviser said: "He could do it on day one. Obama has a lot on his plate with the economy so Cuba will not be top of his list but I'd expect it to happen fairly quickly." During the campaign, Mr Obama vowed to maintain the economic embargo older even than he is which prevents other Americans from visiting the island.
Obama's campaign statements and the platform pledge were for unlimited travel and remittances. He also said he would do it "immediately after taking office", which makes sense if a primary motive is humanitarian.
It is also not clear whether the transition team source or the reporter obfuscates Obama's ability to just as easily allow other kinds of non-tourist travel. Certainly travel by tens of thousands of mainstream Americans for educational, humanitarian, religious, cultural and sports purposes is at least as great a contribution to mutual understanding.
I'd like to think this is just a rewrite of a Miami Herald story of several weeks ago rather than new reporting but some of the details are fresh. Since then Obama has gotten a lot of flack from his strongest long term supporters because of national security appointees and the Rick Warren invitation.
A bold step on Cuba that provides general licenses for all twelve categories of non-tourist travels is an effective way to remind his friends, the American people and international opinion that he will bring real change to tired and counterproductive policies.
[Members of the transition team are listed here.]