Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Director Peter Schechter writes for the Hill on the recent change in US-Cuba relations:
For the second time in a month, President Barack Obama has exercised decisive leadership through executive action. Each directive addressed one of the two structural impediments in the U.S. – Latin America relationship. The first, of course, was immigration. The second is lifting sanctions on Cuba. With the stroke of a pen, Obama’s change in travel, business, and financial policies, the restoration of diplomatic relations, and the removal of Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terror List has effectively ended nearly 55 years of Cuba sanctions policy. The embargo is effectively over.
Yes, congressionally mandated sanctions still stand, waiting to be formally overturned by a gridlocked Congress, but practically speaking Cuba will no longer suffer the curse of over a half century of failed U.S. policy. For all these years, the embargo served as the gift of a lifetime for the Castros, allowing them to blame all of Cuba’s woes on the United States. Now that excuse is gone; the impoverished conditions and lack of freedom that plague the lives of most Cubans can only be the fault of their leaders.