On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Obama Administration announced that it would loosen trade agreements between the US and Cuba.1 While the embargo between the two countries is still in place, and not likely to be overturned by congress anytime soon, restrictions on exports and shipping have been eased. The new trade agreements will take effect on February 3, 2016 and will allow for goods from the US to go directly to Cuba. Previously, any type of export from the US was sent to another country in transit which would later make its way to Cuba, making the process very costly. Along with sending goods, which range from textbooks to bulldozers, the new agreement allows for US businesses to invest in infrastructure projects and to lend money to Cuban businesses both big and small. 2
While this is a first step toward opening up relations between the US and Cuba, there are many new policies that the Obama Administration hopes to implement before it ends. For example, Obama and his team are pushing to create policies that will make it easier for Cubans to start small businesses and engage in international trade.1 But among all this talk of helping Cuba, some believe that these policies harken back to pre-embargo times where the US exploited Cuban industries. Democratic Senator, Robert Menendez, son of Cuban immigrants, believes that these policies are “tightening the grip” on a country that they would continue to exploit and oppress.1 Others are worried that engaging in politics with Cuba could be dangerous due to their past human rights record and lack of political freedom.
Politics of the new relations with Cuba may have many problems to work out in the coming months. People choosing to visit Cuba still have to fly via chartered planes or leave from non-US destinations. However, it seems that American businesses have their eyes set on the Caribbean nation that is facing the possibility of huge economic expansion through tourism and other business ventures.
Davis, Julie Hirschfeld. "U.S. Eases Restrictions on Financing Exports to Cuba." The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. Available at:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/27/world/americas/cuba-us-trade-embargo-exports.html?ref=americas
"United States Eases Trade Restrictions with Cuba - BBC News." BBC News. N.p., 27 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. Available at:http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35424044