May 4th, 2009
04:31 PM ET
5 years ago

Is trade embargo with Cuba hurting U.S. interests?

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) - If Americans wonder what it's like to travel to Cuba, just ask a Canadian.

"Let's be honest, there's a mystique about Cuba," said Graham Cook, a Canadian golf course designer.

Or ask South African pro golfer Ernie Els, the star attraction at a Cuban golf tournament aimed at turning the island into the sport's next destination.

"It would be great to see the Americans and the Cubans get together," Els said. "There's lots of potential here."

Every year, foreign travelers escape to Cuba's exotic shores and Spanish colonial streets, pumping an estimated $2 billion into the island's economy.

There are stunning examples in Cuba of how America's biggest competitors are investing heavily in the island nation, from European hotels to Chinese oil drilling operations. But the 47-year-old trade embargo with Cuba has Americans only watching from the sidelines, 90 miles away.

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Filed under: Cuba
April 22nd, 2009
02:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama misreads Cuban offer, Fidel Castro says

Fidel Castro appears with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, left, and brother Raúl Castro in a photo released in June.
Fidel Castro appears with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, left, and brother Raúl Castro in a photo released in June.

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) - President Obama misinterpreted Cuban President Raúl Castro's offer to start talks with the United States, Castro's brother Fidel said Wednesday, appearing to dismiss the U.S. leader's call for Cuba to release political prisoners.

In an essay published in state-run newspapers Wednesday, the ailing revolutionary leader said the people Washington calls political prisoners are "in the service of a foreign power that threatens and blockades our homeland."

Fidel Castro's comments come after signs of a thaw in the decades-old impasse between the United States and the communist-ruled island to its south.

Obama lifted all restrictions on visits and money transfers between American citizens and relatives in Cuba this month, while Raúl Castro said Cuba is prepared to talk with the United States about "everything - human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners."

Speaking at a conference of inter-American and Caribbean leaders Sunday, Obama said the Cuban leader's declaration was "a sign of progress."

He added that the Cuban government could send a much clearer, more positive signal by releasing political prisoners or reducing fees charged on remittances Americans send to relatives in the country.

But Fidel Castro wrote Wednesday, "There is no doubt that the president misinterpreted Raúl's statements."

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Filed under: Cuba • Obama administration • President Obama
April 18th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama: 'We can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction'

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (CNN) - President Obama said Friday he is seeking "a new beginning" in U.S. relations with Cuba.

Before addressing the representatives of 34 countries at the Summit of the Americas, Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saw each other and shook hands.

"Every one of our nations has a right to follow its own path," Obama told the assembly. "But we all have a responsibility to see that the people of the Americas have the ability to pursue their own dreams in democratic societies.

"Toward that end, the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba."

Obama arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday evening for the Summit of the Americas, a key meeting of hemispheric powers. Although it was not represented at the talks, the subject of Cuba dominated the president's speech.

In prepared remarks, Obama said that "decades of mistrust" must be overcome, but noted that he has already loosened restrictions that limited Americans from traveling to visit relatives in Cuba and from sending money to them.

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Filed under: Cuba • President Obama
April 17th, 2009
07:40 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama: 'We can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction'

President Obama is saluted as he arrives Friday in Trinidad for the Summit of the Americas.
President Obama is saluted as he arrives Friday in Trinidad for the Summit of the Americas.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (CNN) - In remarks to be delivered Friday to representatives of 34 countries at the Summit of the Americas here, President Obama says he is seeking "a new beginning" in U.S. relations with Cuba.

"Every one of our nations has a right to follow its own path," a transcript of his prepared remarks reads. "But we all have a responsibility to see that the people of the Americas have the ability to pursue their own dreams in democratic societies.

"Toward that end, the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba."

Obama arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday evening for the Summit of the Americas, a key meeting of hemispheric powers. Although it was not represented at the talks, the subject of Cuba dominated the president's speech.

In the prepared remarks, Obama adds that "decades of mistrust" must be overcome, but notes that he has already loosened restrictions that limited Americans from traveling to visit relatives in Cuba and from sending money to them.

Obama lifted all restrictions Monday on the ability of individuals to visit relatives in Cuba, as well as to send them remittances.

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Filed under: Cuba • Obama administration • President Obama
April 17th, 2009
07:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama to weigh in on US-Cuba relations

The United States and Cuba are exchanging what may be the warmest of words between the two nations in over 50 years.
The United States and Cuba are exchanging what may be the warmest of words between the two nations in over 50 years.

(CNN) - The United States and Cuba are exchanging what may be the warmest of words between the two nations in over 50 years.

According to an advance copy of President Obama's opening remarks at the Summit of the Americas released Friday by the White House, the president will announce the first steps toward a "new day" in U.S.-Cuban relations.

"The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba. I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day," the president is expected to say. "I have already changed a Cuba policy that has failed to advance liberty or opportunity for the Cuban people. We will now allow Cuban Americans to visit the island whenever they choose and to provide resources to their families – the same way that so many people in my country send money back to their families in your countries to help them pay for their everyday needs."

"Let me be clear: I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction."

Cuban President Raul Castro said Thursday he had sent the U.S. government word he was willing to talk about "human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners - everything, everything, everything they want to discuss."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to Castro's remarks at a press conference Friday. In appearance alongside Dominican Republic President Leonel Antonio Fernandez, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said US policy toward Cuba has failed and that the United States was "taking a very serious look" at how to respond to Cuban President Raul Castro's 'overture.'


Filed under: Cuba • Hillary Clinton • President Obama
April 17th, 2009
10:43 AM ET
5 years ago

Should the U.S. open the door to Cuba?

Obama heads to the Summit of Americas Friday in Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba is expected to be a topic of discussion.
Obama heads to the Summit of Americas Friday in Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba is expected to be a topic of discussion.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Nearly 50 years after the U.S. imposed an embargo on Cuba, President Obama took steps this week that may lead to improved relations with the island nation.

The president loosened restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting and sending money home to relatives who still live in Cuba, and a White House spokesman said the U.S. will begin sending humanitarian assistance "directly to the Cuban people."

Obama heads to the Summit of Americas Friday in Trinidad and Tobago. Cuba is expected to be a topic of discussion.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows that 71 percent of Americans support reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, while 64 percent of Americans back lifting the U.S. ban on travel to the island nation.

What do you think? Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


Filed under: Cuba
April 16th, 2009
03:02 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama likely to get earful on Cuba at summit

President Obama embarked on a tripe to several Latin American countries Thursday.
President Obama embarked on a tripe to several Latin American countries Thursday.

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) – When President Obama arrives in Trinidad and Tobago this week for the Summit of the Americas, the one country in the region not present may be the one he hears the most about: Cuba.

Latin American leaders overwhelmingly oppose the U.S. trade embargo imposed on the communist island in 1962 - years after Fidel Castro led a revolution to overthrow Cuba's Batista dictatorship.

Although Castro was credited with bringing social reforms to Cuba, he has been criticized around the world for oppressing human rights and free speech.

Several Latin American leaders have said they'll bring up the trade embargo at the summit. But this time it's not just Washington's usual critics.

Last month at the White House, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva urged the U.S. to normalize relations with Cuba. Obama and Lula da Silva are among the leaders scheduled to attend the Summit of the Americas this week.

Full Story


Filed under: Cuba • President Obama
April 13th, 2009
12:42 PM ET
5 years ago

Administration to ease Cuba restrictions

A CNN poll this month found 7 in 10 Americans back re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.
A CNN poll this month found 7 in 10 Americans back re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration has decided to loosen restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba for Cuban-Americans, senior administration officials confirmed Monday.

The White House plans to announce the change later in the day.

The decision represents a significant shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba. It comes days before Obama leaves for the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

Related: 7 in 10 Americans back diplomatic relations with Cuba, according to a CNN/ORC poll

Before he was elected president, Obama promised to lower some of the barriers in Cuban-American relations. Provisions attached to a $410 billion supplemental budget Obama signed in March also made it easier for Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba and to send money to family members on the island. In addition, they facilitated the sale of agricultural and pharmaceutical products to Cuba.

FULL POST


Filed under: Cuba
April 11th, 2009
09:11 AM ET
5 years ago

US says Cuba tried to hurt American morale, poison family pets

A State Department report says the Cuban government has purposely made life difficult for US diplomats in Havana.
A State Department report says the Cuban government has purposely made life difficult for US diplomats in Havana.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Cuba purposely has made life difficult for U.S. diplomats serving in the U.S. Interest Section in Havana and has even poisoned family pets to hurt American morale, according to a State Department report released Friday.

The report dates back to 2007, but its release comes just days before the Obama administration is expected to ease some restrictions on Cuban-Americans sending money to Cuba and visiting family there.

And it is made public just days after a Congressional Black Caucus delegation returned from Cuba and provided glowing reports of how they were received by Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro.

The report was prepared by the State Department inspector general. It repeatedly mentions poor morale among U.S. diplomats serving in Cuba, saying the Cuban government "lets you know it's hostile."

Without full diplomatic relations with Cuba, and with a trade and travel embargo still in place, there is no U.S. Embassy. The Interests Section issues visas and performs other diplomatic services.

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Filed under: Cuba
April 10th, 2009
12:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll: 7 in 10 Americans back diplomatic relations with Cuba

Do Americans back a plan to relax some of the current restrictions on Cuba?
Do Americans back a plan to relax some of the current restrictions on Cuba?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama is getting ready to visit to the Summit of the Americas next week amid rising reports the administration is planning to announce new rules on family travel and remittances to Cuba. Do Americans back a plan to relax some of the current restrictions on that island nation?

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday suggests the answer is yes. Nearly two thirds think the United States should lift its ban on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba. And seven in ten think it's time to re-establish diplomatic relations with that country.

" Republicans as well as Democrats favor re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "On the issue of lifting travel restrictions, Republicans are evenly divided, while Independents and Democrats support the change."

The CNN/ORC telephone poll of 1,023 Americans was conducted April 3-5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: Cuba • Polls
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