Speculation is increasing that the White House will be making an announcement of a plan to “ease” travel restrictions to Cuba. The emphasis is on “ease” not totally lift current restrictions on the embargoed country.
The anticipated statement’s focus will most likely be on areas of potential exchange and trade, including energy development.
In an article in The Christian Science Monitor, Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas in Washington says,
“It’s going to look very much like what the conditions for travel were under President Clinton, with the emphasis on ‘people to people exchange.’ ”
The people to people exchange could involve religious groups and academicians.
President Obama’s ease of restrictions is expected to be consistent with US policy, which encourages democratic reforms and greater freedom on the communist island. Its intention will be to reverse the tighter bans imposed by the Bush administration.
The CS Monitor reports,
Energy development is one area where pressure is expected to grow for “something different” in Cuba policy. Cuba has begun exploratory drilling in search of oil in its territorial waters, with some reports estimating the island could become a major oil producer – and refiner – over the next five to 10 years.
“Cuba is thinking about energy economically [in the region] in not a small way at all,” says Lisa Margonelli, director of energy policy at the New America Foundation in Washington. “That’s something the US should consider as we look down the road.”
Experts supporting energy development in Cuba believe the White House should look at other non-communist countries as source of energy development, such as Venezuela and Mexico. The primary logic is a need to focus on on-shore production. Cuba presents off-shore production limitations.
In a statement regarding the ease of travel restrictions, Sen. Robert Menendez (D, NJ) stated,
“The big corporate interests behind the push to relax the embargo couldn’t care less about whether the Cuban people are free or not. They only care about padding their profits by opening up a new market.”
An announcement is expected to come by Labor Day weekend.