Obama administration announced some steps today to begin moving our Cuba policy in a more sensible direction:
– Lift all restrictions on transactions related to the travel of family members to Cuba.
– Remove restrictions on remittances to family members in Cuba.
– Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.
– License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into roaming service agreements with Cuba’s telecommunications service providers.
– License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.
– License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba.
– Authorize the donation of certain consumer telecommunication devices without a license.
– Add certain humanitarian items to the list of items eligible for export through licensing exceptions.
What they’ve done here, pretty clearly, is tightly target those measures where a clear case can be made that relaxing restrictions does much more to weaken the regime than anything else. That’s clever politics and probably a smart start. But the plain fact of the matter is that the whole embargo is based on faulty logic. Making the Cuban population as poor as possible isn’t going to bring democracy to the island, and the idea that a more prosperous Cuba could somehow become so prosperous as to pose a security threat to the United States is ridiculous. A Communist economy running without subsidies from the USSR is bound to be pretty poor no matter what, but there’s no reason for us to contribute to the situation.