[Marxism] (no subject)

Rosemary Neidenberg rosemari3 at verizon.net
Tue Apr 14 18:07:55 MDT 2009

LA ALBORADA is the daily bulletin of the Cuban-American Alliance Education
fund in Washington, DC.

Obama's New  Rules
La Alborada - April 14

It's finally happened: a slight opening in the blockade. It may portend, as
some predict, the eventual end of the policy. Time will tell whether and how
far the President takes further steps or accepts further measures from
Congress, such as bills already pending that would permit free travel for
all people in the U.S.

The White House announcement came soon after a parallel proposal from the
Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), and tracks it so closely as to
suggest that the two were coordinated. The CANF proposal was accompanied
with perfect timing by a letter from a group of "dissidents" to the
President, requesting money in cash and in greater quantities for them. It
makes sense to consider the three events together.

The first part of the White House announcement, and the one with the most
immediate effect, is the lifting of all restrictions on travel to see
relatives, to second-cousin degree. There will surely be a wave of travel by
people concerned about families affected by the hurricanes of last season
and in general, and of families that under the Bush rules were determined to
no longer be family. There will just as surely be an increase in the number
of mules ferrying money to "civil society" sectors of the kind that the
State Department likes to support for purposes of branded "color

There will be no limit on the frequency or amount of family remittances
allowed; travelers may take with them up to $3,000; the scope of eligible
gift parcel donors will be expanded to include "any individual," and the
scope of donees will be expanded to include individuals other than Party or
goverment officials, and NGOs not "controlled" by the government.  The limit
on the value of non-food items will increase to $800.

Other changes involve authorization for a range of telecommunications
providers to enter agreements with Cuba. These include:

- network providers, to establish optic-cable and satellite communications;
- mobile-phone carriers, to enter into roaming agreements with Cuba's
service providers; and
- satellite radio and TV providers, to provide services in Cuba.

The new rules also will permit US residents to pay here for services
delivered in Cuba, and to export to Cuba pre-paid mobile phones, computer
and software, and satellite receivers.

Whether or not Cuba allows the entry of such services and goods remains to
be seen.

there is precedent: the US prohibited Cuba's access to the Internet until
1996, when the Helms-Burton law called for increased broadcasts and
communications to Cuba in order to build opposition on the island. It still
limits to a small allottment the bandwith allowed to Cuba, while demanding
that Cuba provide subsidized Internet to the masses.

The new rules concerning telecoms were not negotiated with or agreed to with
Cuba, but were promulgated unilaterally. They sound like an alternative to
Radio Martí and the invisible TV Martí, to be delivered by cable or
satellite rather than transmitted from a balloon or an aircraft. They do not
sound like a hand extended as a prelude to talks.

Still, Obama has to negotiate in part a hard-line constituency, even within
his own party, as well as deal with old habits of the State and other
Departments, the CIA, and the FBI. The new rules may be all that he is able
to do for now.

At the Americas' Summit, Obama will go no further than these changes in
response to the continent's demands for an end to the blockade.  His special
envoy has made clear that the US does not want Cuba to be on the agenda.  As
far as the Administration is concerned, the issue is closed. For now.

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