Could Obama change Cuba policy?

A woman stands on a terrace roof next to a Cuban flag.


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Things have been a little sticky to say the least between the United States and Cuba.
It was 50 years ago today when Fidel Castro took control of the island nation just 90 miles south of Florida. Castro's in failing health, but his brother Raul is now president and a U.S. imposed embargo is still in place. Could there be a policy change with a new administration coming in?
From the Americas Desk at WLRN in Miami, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.

DAN GRECH: President Bush took a hard stance on Cuba. He restricted the money Cuban Americans could send to relatives on the island, and he limited family visits to once every three years.

Obama has promised to roll back those restrictions early in his first term. Reese Erlich is author of the book Dateline Havana. He says if Obama further loosened the embargo, Cuba would quickly emerge as an important trading partner.

REESE ERLICH: There's oil deposits off shore that U.S. companies could be investing in, there's a lot of tourism, nickel, there's lots of business to be done with Cuba if the Obama administration changes U.S. policy.

But that's a big "if."

ERLICH: Cuba is a high-risk issue with very little reward if you're sitting in the White House. To even have normal relations, as we do with China or Vietnam, is to ignite a firestorm of protest in Miami and parts of New Jersey.

Erlich says the embargo -- like the Castro government -- is likely to survive 2009.

In Miami, I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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A change is necessary. Almost 50 years without any positive results. While Cuba families are separeted, american people hasn't the right to travel free to a beautiful island.

A former Chief of Mission for the US Special Interests Section in Havana said it best..."The great irony of the socialist regime in Cuba is that it has, perhaps, done a better job of preparing its citizens for capitalism and democracy than any other country in Latin America." Cubans are well-educated, healthy, and incredibly resourceful and savvy. Provide them with access to start-up capital and the broader US market and you will not only see great things from the country economically, but also increasing demands for democracy politically. Ending the embargo will do much more good than harm. Go Obama!!

A change is waaay overdue. In keeping with Pres. Obama's change approach, I say go for it. Obviously turning the economic cold shoulder to Cuba hasn't worked, lets try some old-fashioned capitalism!!

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