Cuban Americans Angry over Obama Easing Policy

Monday, 17 Jan 2011 02:39 PM

By Dan Weil

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Cuban Americans aren’t too happy about the Obama administration’s decision last week to allow more U.S. travel to Cuba, making it easier for schools, churches and cultural groups to visit the island.

A senior White House official told The Miami Herald the much-expected move to expand cultural, religious and educational travel to Cuba is part of the administration's continuing ``effort to support the Cuban people's desire to freely determine their own future.”

cuba,lifting,sanctions,obama,castroBut many others don’t see it that way. This “will not help foster a pro-democracy environment in Cuba,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee tells The Herald.

``These changes will not aid in ushering in respect for human rights. And they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from the tyranny that engulfs them. These changes undermine U.S. foreign policy and security objectives and will bring economic benefits to the Cuban regime.''

Newly-elected Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Cuban immigrant, agrees. "I strongly oppose any new changes that weaken U.S. policy towards Cuba. I was opposed to the changes that have already been made by this administration, and I oppose these new changes,” he says in a statement.

“I believe that what does need to change are the Cuban regime's repressive policies towards the independent press and labor unions, its imprisonment of political prisoners and constant harassment of citizens with dissenting views, and its refusal to allow free multi-party elections.”

That leads Rubio to rip the White House. “It is unthinkable that the administration would enable the enrichment of a Cuban regime that routinely violates the basic human rights and dignity of its people."

U.S. critics of Castro, as well as some dissidents in Cuba, note that Canada and European nations have long allowed unfettered access to Cuba for tourist travel and for other reasons. Despite the huge influx of such visitors, the quality of life for Cubans has not improved. In fact, these critics argue that the profits from such tourism has only served to increase the size of Castro's coffers, giving him a ready source of foreign currency reserves and allowing him to continue in power as a violator of human rights.

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