Beneath the radar: President Obama has loosened travel restrictions to Cuba, making it easier “for students, religious and cultural groups to visit the country” according to The Hill.
Actually, this isn’t a bad idea as some historians believe that Reagan’s relaxation of restrictions on contacts with the old Soviet Union had a direct bearing on its eventual fall – the “soft power” of liberal ideas being introduced into the seething unrest caused by Gorbachev’s glasnost. Cutting through the constant propaganda of the Communist state by allowing oppressed citizens to actually meet and greet people from the United States opened many eyes regarding the truth about how people lived in the west. It wasn’t decisive, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
But Reagan stopped short of propping up the Soviet state as Obama intends to do with Castro’s Cuba.
The proposed changes also allows any American to send as much as $500 every three months to non-family members, or a total of $2,000 yearly, to “support private economic activity” to Cubans. No changes will be made to the general license for family remittances.
The Cuban peso is worthless which is why the government there is desperate for hard currency. Cuba’s balance of payments is a mess and these remittances will assist the Castro regime’s efforts to maintain control.
This is just a warm-up for what some Cuban Americans believe will be an effort by President Obama in a second term to lift the embargo and normalize relations with the Castro brothers. That would be just the kind of world-historical move that appeals to Obama’s outsized view of himself as both peacemaker and an agent of change.
Let’s hope he doesn’t get the chance to prove it.