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Obama Signs Bill that Eases Cuba Policy

Andrew Nagy
Posted: March 11, 2009

(continued from page 1)

The bill then cleared the Senate by a margin of 62-35.

Human rights groups and Cuban sympathizers hailed the bill as a positive step towards overturning the U.S.-Cuban policy.

In a news release, José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said "Cutting off funding for these cruel restrictions is a step in the right direction. But it's hardly permanent. President Obama should follow up by issuing an executive order to eliminate all restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans."

The recent events in Washington stand as a litmus test for the potential challenges Obama may face should he move to further ease Cuba travel and trade restrictions.

During his presidential campaign, Obama pledged to reexamine U.S. foreign policy to Cuba.

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, some feel he could announce big revisions sooner than later, as April's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago nears.

"There is a strong likelihood that Obama will announce policy changes prior to the summit," said Daniel Erikson, director of Caribbean programmes at the Inter-American Dialogue and author of The Cuba Wars in the article. "Loosening travel restrictions would be the easy thing to do and defuse tensions at the summit."

For more, see James Suckling's blog.

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