Obama Faces Calls to Open Up to Cuba, Yet Again
May 28, 2014
The Wall Street Journal reports:Early in his presidency, when Barack Obama was still promising to shutter the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, he was also touting a new thaw in U.S. policy toward the rest of Cuba. Not much has changed since then on either front. But five years later, the president is coming under renewed pressure from businesses and the diplomatic community to make bigger shifts toward the island nation, particularly on the trade and diplomatic front. For the first time in 15 years, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue flew to Cuba this week for a round of meetings with Cuban entrepreneurs and government officials, part of a longstanding drive by U.S. business to wedge open trade and investment with Cuba. ... Last week, an unusual roster of big-name former officials and business leaders urged Mr. Obama to take a series of distinct steps to broaden outreach to the island, particularly by making travel easier and by ramping up support for local nongovernment groups. Signatories to the open letter included former top U.S. diplomats Thomas Pickering and Strobe Talbott, along with prominent Cuban American businessmen such as Florida sugar baron Andres Fanjul. The group acknowledges that Congress isn’t likely to support any larger shift toward Cuba, such as a pulling back of the longstanding trade embargo, so it advises a series of administrative moves within the powers of the White House.