Actual hopey changey stuff… for a change…

I join those who applaud the President’s decision to loosen (albeit inadequately and pathetically, but it’s still something)… er, loosen travel restrictions to Cuba. The move allows some minor increase in remittances and increased access for direct travel to Cuba for church groups and students and so forth… and the move goes in the direction of letting any American who wants to travel to Cuba do so (you probably can now, though you have to do so “unofficially” without a passport stamp and through an entry point other than the United States, such as Mexico or another Caribbean country). I say that, because, of course, this might make it easier to go down to Eastern Cuba next January for the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention center… not exactly a “celebration,” but I have little doubt that the Cuban government would be delighted to welcome Americans willing to march to the gates of Guantanamo, as they were a few years ago… our government might feel a bit differently, of course!
American Cuban policy ends up being even more insane (and counter-productive) than the other policies that are driven by specific ethnic pressure groups (those of course, would involve American policies toward Israel, and to a lesser extent, toward Armenia and other places). The half century American embargo is widely seen as the only thing that has kept the Castro regime in place, as communist regimes in Nicaragua, Eastern Europe and even the Soviet Union itself have collapsed, and China has embraced some form of capitalism.
OTOH, Cuba has been forced to live as efficiently as possible with an extremely low dependency on petroleum, and, despite its political repressiveness (although, let’s face it– the most notorious gulag on the island is run by the United States), has, for an otherwise poor country, pretty good literacy and medical care and cultural vibrancy. I have kind of joked that in the coming post-peak-oil collapse, the people likely to be “riding high” would end up being the Amish and the Cubans! Of course, the Amish have the good sense to continue being, well, Amish, regardless of how many strip malls and McMansions are built near them… the Cubans are still subject to the isolation imposed by the American embargo. Query if the President will break through the political-Gordian-knot of fear of backlash by ethnic-Cuban residents of Florida (nearly all of whom vote Republican anyway, btw) and manage to open up Cuba even more… though we all know that if American corporations have their way, the delicate social and environmental balance holding Cuba together now will likely be crushed (though the “good news” is that the Castro regime would likely be crushed with it, although repression by the communist state would likely be replaced by repression from a klepto-capitalist state… lather, rinse, repeat…)
Anyway, baby steps. An actual decent move in the foreign policy/human rights realm. A few thousand more of these, and maybe I’ll actually have something nice to say about (my college classmate) the President, in general.