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"New melting seems to have begun": Cuba receives new US measures with confidence |  International

“New melting seems to have begun”: Cuba receives new US measures with confidence | International

On May 3, a car pulled up in front of the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba.Ernesto Mastrascuza (EFE)

Havana responded positively this Monday Washington’s announcement that it is softening its policy on Cuba By allowing more flights, remittances and family reunions. The Joe Biden administration’s decision to reverse some of Donald Trump’s austerity measures has been enthusiastically received in the private sector, in small and medium businesses, and in businesses that benefit from them.

Many of the measures announced this Monday are important to the sector – representing nearly 15% of the already active population, and sympathetically support a good portion of the population. Of these Restoration of direct flights between the United States And many Cuban cities, including the resumption of North American voyages to the island People to peopleUnder Barack Obama’s decree and until Trump’s restrictions, Americans were allowed to travel to the island with virtually no restrictions – at the time, the United States became the second largest source of tourism to Cuba – and deregulated remittances. Island by companies like Western Union.

Not least, when Tens of thousands of Cubans are illegally migrating to the United StatesNews that Washington will reactivate its diplomatic services in line with current immigration agreements between the two countries establishes a North American commitment to issue at least 20,000 annual visas to Cuban citizens for family reunification. Reached the White House and never met.

To analysts such as Cuban educator and former diplomat Carlos Al-Zugare, an expert on Cuban-US relations, “the first clear event is that President Biden is on track to fulfill his campaign promises regarding Cuba.” In the background, he highlights the celebration of the first round of high-level immigration talks between Cuban and North American diplomats on Thursday, April 21, and pointed out that the four actions now recognized are “important.”

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“Some aim to respond to demands from Cuban-American voters, such as re-establishing a family reunification program and removing the $ 1,000 per quarter limit on remittances to their relatives in Cuba.” However, Alsugare points out that there are two factors that motivate the “absolutely Cuban” sector: the recognition of North American travel to Cuba as “people-to-people” (not tourism), which spurred the hospitality service sector in 2014-2016, Cuban visitors, hotel and gastronomic; And facilities for some investment in the Cuban private sector, precisely when the island government promotes it.

According to the educator, “everything marks the beginning of a new melting pot and the Biden administration believes it is more important than any domestic opinion.” Among the reasons for Washington’s pragmatism, he pointed to the need to forge a rapprochement with Cuba, despite considerations of “domestic nature,” in which he points to the “emigration crisis affecting many countries in the region, particularly Mexico; US Summit in Los Angeles in June; And Cuba’s position in the face of the Ukrainian conflict. “

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Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called the US government’s announcement a “definite step in the right direction”, although he stressed that the Biden administration had not yet removed the measures. Terrorism “and” Trump’s pressure-driven measures that still affect the Cuban people “and his embargo against the island, according to Havana, are responsible for most of their illnesses.”

Rafael Hernandez, director of the Cuban newspaper Thomas, said, “Nothing in the White House’s set of actions responds to the logic of human rights, nor to the importance of Cuba on its agenda, but to migration, which is a national security issue for them.” According to Hernandez, the measures “now go to the center of American interest: stop the migration crisis.” In his opinion, in order to gain the cooperation of the Cuban government in this area they need to “go back to the most important part of the persecution they have committed in the last 5 years: the remittances and the limits of Cuban travel.”

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“By closing visas in order to create pressure within Cuba, the concentrated migration situation led to a crisis beyond control (like 1965, 1980, 1994),” Hernandez points out. “When they are forced to open the door to Cuba, other pending topics slip into negotiation of its outcome: including North American visits to the island under public license. People to people In a group; Direct flights to provinces; Visas for entry into the United States (B1 and B2) with multiple entries (five years). And non-existent ones, such as direct banking operations for private entrepreneurs; And sending money directly to Cuban banking institutions. Those with banks want to expand economic ties in the medium term.

European ambassadors have pointed to Washington’s decision as “positive” and “welcome”, and that something expected from Biden’s arrival at the White House a year and a half ago is finally moving in, but needs to be thoroughly analyzed now. Washington’s announcement has been well-received in key sectors, including among moderate opponents, but underscores the need for the United States not to give in to pressure on human rights issues and the lack of independence on the island.

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