MIAMI (CBSMiami) — President Barack Obama got the ball rolling on easing travel to Cuba and allowing limited trade.
“When what you’ve been doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new,” said the president.
Then a bipartisan group of senators proposed removing all travel restrictions. Now a bill would totally lift the 50 year old economic embargo on Cuba.
Six senators, Democrats and Republicans, introduced the measure.
The Chief Sponsor, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, said the embargo has “disadvantaged American businesses by restricting commerce with a market of 11 million people just ninety miles from our shores.”
Dr. Frank Mora, Director of Florida International University’s Center for Latin American Studies, said free trade would be good for business in Cuba and America and help liberate the Cuban people.
“And no better way to do that than to have companies and others engage private financing, so that they can start their businesses and free themselves, however gradually, from the hold of the government,” said Mora.
Hardliners on Cuba, particularly South Florida Cuban American Lawmakers have opposed any easing of policy.
“I believe that they will not be effective in bringing about the sort of political opening on the island of Cuba that all of us desire for the Cuban people,” said U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, (R) Florida.
Opponents said lifting the embargo is a naive notion.
“I don’t think they’re going to be able to lift the embargo because certain things have to be present… Freedom and democracy. It ain’t going to happen,” said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) Miami-Dade.
Younger Cuban Americans though seem to take a softer view.
“We don’t have that kind of system with other communist countries and we still do business with them. And I feel like the embargo is not helping the Cubans,” said Cuban-American FIU student Natalie Sarracino.
In any case, the debate over how to help Cuba is burgeoning.
Opposition to the anti-embargo measure may be eased somewhat, because it does not interfere with claims brought by those whose property and money were seized when the Castro regime took power.