Posted on Thursday, 10.01.09
Report: Hard to ease Cuba embargo
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
El Nuevo Herald
A U.S. president has limited ways to ease the embargo on Cuba — unless
he or she certifies that Havana is moving toward democracy or Congress
overturns U.S. laws on the sanctions, according to a report by the U.S.
Government Accountability Office.
“The bottom line is that the president and Congress have done about as
much as they can for now'' to ease the sanctions, said a U.S. government
official who studied the report. “So, unless Cuba takes steps [toward
democracy] the ball is in Congress' court.''
The report comes amid a debate between supporters of the sanctions, who
argue that current laws make it all but impossible to change them, and
sanctions opponents who argue the president has the power to
significantly ease the embargo.
Some have argued, for example, that President Barack Obama could allow
all Americans to travel to Cuba by simply allowing tourism under the
“general licenses'' that do not require specific reasons for traveling
The GAO report, which was released Thursday, was requested by three
supporters of easing the Cuba sanctions: Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. ;
Rep. Jeff Flake, R.-Ariz, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
The report concluded that a U.S. president can nibble around the edges
of current restrictions, such as “further easing restrictions on
travel, remittances and gift parcels beyond the changes recently
implemented'' by Obama and Congress.
. . . . . . , the president could end the embargo only if Congress
were to amend or repeal (Helms-Burton) and other embargo-related
statutes,'' the report said.
The Democrat-controlled House is expected to take up several bills in
the next year that would ease U.S. sanctions in Cuba. Embargo opponents
have claimed they have the votes to approve some of those bills,
including one lifting all restrictions on travel to Cuba.
Embargo supporters say they will fight in the Senate, where the
Democratics have a more slender majority, to block any significant
easings of the embargo.
Report: Hard to ease Cuba embargo – Cuba – MiamiHerald.com (1 October 2009)