Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Perfect Storm for Cuba/American relations

The announcement by President Obama, delivered by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs yesterday, to loosen travel and financial restrictions toward Cuba is a positive shift in policy for Cuban-American relations. To expand on the policy shift, it was announced that United States will work with telecom companies to offer cell phone and television service to Cubans. Opening up communication with the island is a welcomed approach to dealing with the aging Communist Regime.

Why now?

With Fidel Castro in the twilight of his life and Raul Castro not far behind him, the opening of relations to the populous of Cuba is a perfect storm. By requiring relatives in the United States to pay for the cell phone and television access is a brilliant move by President Obama. The requirement will give the United States greater access to intelligence gathering via provisions in the Patriot Act signed by President Bush in 2006.

Finally the Patriot Act, which stripped away a level of civil liberty in the United States, will bear fruit as with the loosening of Cuba restrictions. While the United States is searching telephone and financial records of Cuban-Americans, a grassroots campaign can be launched via ads broadcasted into Cuba. The missing element to all this is how Castro’s feel about the shift. Since Fidel Castro has looked for an end to the Embargo for years, one can assume the shift is welcomed and encouraging.

The shift in policy also allows Raul Castro to tout a relationship change with the United States that his brother Fidel was unable to achieve. Raul Castro will be tempered by the potential ground swell of Democratic rhetoric that runs counter to the Communist doctrine. The perfect storm of the decline of Russian power, Patriot Act, Raul Castro, and the election of a Community Organizer to President of the United States may finally open up Cuba to America.