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US makes concessions on Cuba and Venezuela

US makes concessions on Cuba and Venezuela
NED PRICE, spokesman for the US State Department

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THE JOE BIDEN administration in the USA earlier this week announced several concessions in its hardline policy towards Cuba and Venezuela. Those countries are both victims of US-led sanctions and economic embargoes and in fact there is a major hemispheric row over US attempts to exclude them from next month’s scheduled Summit of the Americas to be held in Los Angeles, USA.

But in a surprising turn of events, on Monday of this week, Ned Price, spokesman for the US State Department, made a number of announcements which amount to a softening of the US policy towards Cuba while not changing the overall hostility towards that island-neighbour of the USA. Price, in making the announcements stated that the focus of US policy towards Cuba has always been “first and foremost on support for the Cuban people”.

In summary the US announcements were: The reinstatement of the Cuba Family Reunification Parole Programme, further increasing consular services for Cubans and resumption of visa processing services so that Cuban families on either side of the Florida Straits can be reunited by regular channels.

Making it easier for Cuban families in the USA to visit their relatives in Cuba and for “authorized” US travelers to engage with Cuban citizens, including attending meetings and conducting research. Encouraging the growth of the Cuban private sector by supporting its greater access to US internet services, applications and e-commerce platforms.

Support new avenues for electronic payments for US business with independent Cuban entrepreneurs.

The new measures represent a reversal of a number of restrictive decrees by the previous Trump administration in the USA, faithfully followed by the Biden administration since it came to office. International reaction has so far been welcoming with many observers of the opinion that while they are helpful, they underscore the necessity for an end to the six-decade old embargo against Cuba which is causing untold hardships for the Cuban people.

CUBAN REPONSE

The Cuban response has been to point out that the new measures “in no way modify the blockade or the main measures of the economic siege by the Trump administration”, nor do they reverse the terrorism designated against Cuba. However, the Cuban government is of the view that they represent “a limited step in the right direction” and, “a response to Cuban denunciation” of the blockade as well as the worldwide call for an end to the blockade and economic, trade and financial sanctions.

Cuba has also indicated its “willingness to establish respectful dialogue on an equal footing” with the USA in a bid to reduce tensions and resolve differences.

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