Obama urged to end Bush’s Cuba embargo

December 11th, 2008 - 1:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 11 (IANS) Cuban dissidents in exile and US academics have urged president-elect Barack Obama to ease restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba as a first step toward normalizing relations with the communist-ruled island.Dissident leader Tomas Bilbao and former US diplomat Wayne Smith, told EFE, despite their different ideologies, they are united in their demand to eliminate a “failed” policy of isolation against Cuba.

It is time for Obama, who will take office Jan 20, to give new direction to Washington’s present Cuba policy which is a vestige of the Cold War, they said.

“If the 28 countries of Eastern Europe taught us anything it’s that there is a direct correlation between the level of opening of a society and the successful transition to democracy,” Bilbao said.

In his opinion, the United States should lift the travel and remittance prohibitions not only for Cuban Americans - as Obama has promised to do - but “for all Americans.”

According to the US embargo, Cuban Americans can pay one visit to the island every three years and send $300 per quarter to relatives there, in both cases only to “immediate relatives.” People who violate the restrictions are subject to fines and prison terms.

A growing majority of Cuban exiles support more flexibility in Washington’s policy toward the island, according to recent surveys.

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