Obama issues a statement declaring the US’s new approach to Cuba irreversible

Posted: 18-Oct-16 13:07

On his last days as U.S President, Obama turned his eyes to Cuba once again to keenly voice his support on the progress made to the normalisation of ties between Cuba and the U.S. while at the same time declaring such process irreversible. During a recent statement he laid out a new Presidential Policy Directive in which he advocated for further loosening of embargo restrictions while saying the actions carried out so far were a permanent step forward, not to be overturned by a future president.

Obama issues a statement declaring the US’s new approach to Cuba irreversible

President Barack Obama used one of his last days in office to draw attention to the improved state of U.S.-Cuba relations and to urge that the steps taken so far toward the normalisation of ties between the two countries are not reversed.

Last Friday the U.S. President made another move to ensure the warming U.S.-Cuba relationship continues on the right path by issuing and approving a new official mandate that provides the continuation of his administration’s loosening of embargo restrictions. His ultimate goal (which Obama, regrettably, did not manage to achieve during his time in office) would have been to put an end to the embargo altogether and scrap what he (and much of the world) regards as an outdated policy towards the Cuban government, but for that he needed a full backing from Congress which is still divided on the issue and resists a complete scrapping of the harsh legislation.

For the time being though, on what probably will be his last speech on Cuba as U.S. President and his last policy amendment regarding Cuba, Barack Obama laid out a new Presidential Policy Directive, which, according to his own statement, takes another major step forward in the U.S. government’s efforts to normalise relations with Cuba.

Part of the Policy Directive include further regulatory changes, such as the end to the $100 limitation on the amount of Cuban rum and cigars U.S. travellers could bring back home from Cuba, and during his opening statement he recalled his historic visit to Cuba, the first time a U.S. President made the 90-mile journey in nearly a century:

These changes are representative of the progress I saw firsthand when I visited Havana to personally extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. The quick flight over 90 miles of blue water belied the real barriers of the past that were crossed that day, but my interactions with everyday Cubans told a promising story of neighbours working to build broader ties of cooperation across the Americas.”

In light of what he personally experienced in Cuba and the dreams and hopes he has for the future of both nations, getting along as friendly, tolerant neighbours, some of the points in his new Presidential Policy Directive addressed some of the issues most U.S. citizens and Cubans are concerned about, including the ensured safety of U.S. travellers aboard the newly resumed direct commercial flights between both nations and improved economic opportunities for every day Cubans.

Explaining how the bilateral improvements between both countries’ governments gave way to a positive and promising future for Cubans themselves, part of the directive read:

“A prosperous, stable Cuba that offers economic opportunities to its people. Increased travel and economic interconnectedness supports improved livelihoods for the Cuban people, deeper economic engagement between our two countries, as well as the development of a private sector that provides greater economic opportunities for the Cuban people.”

But the economic argument went both ways, as Obama also dedicated a lengthy part of the directive to explaining how such an improved relationship also allowed U.S. companies and individual to make business in the island and benefit from untapped markets with plenty of profitable potential.

The directive ended with six U.S. objectives for the U.S.-Cuba relationship on the medium term, addressing the following areas: Government-to-Government Interaction, Engagement and Connectivity, Expanded Commerce, Economic Reform in Cuba with an action plan for when the embargo is eventually lifted, Respect for Universal Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, and Democratic Values and Cuban Integration into International and Regional Systems, with the later aiming at facilitating the integration of Cuba into international bodies like WCO and WTO, helping them to meet international standards while also pushing for the end of the embargo which will allow U.S. – Cuba trade to normalise.

So, far, this new presidential directive promises the dawning of a new, hopefully irreversible era of prosperity for Cubans, we can only wait and hope that the next U.S. President continues Obama’s efforts and is eventually successful at convincing Congress to lift the embargo once and for all.


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