Recent News about U.S. Government’s Actions Regarding Cuba

On February 13th the U.S. Department of State announced that a new regulation will allow certain goods and services produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs to be imported into the U.S. Cuba’s nascent private sector includes self-employed individuals, private small businesses, and private cooperatives that are independent of Cuba’s state sector. [1]

However, many goods were excluded from the liberalization, including food and agricultural products, alcohol, minerals, chemicals, textiles, machinery, vehicles, arms and ammunition.

Exports of all services are permitted. Some observers believe this may be more significant. This, for example, could allow Cuban graphic designers, computer programmers, market researchers or party planners to acquire U.S. clients.

On the diplomatic front, the U.S. reportedly is pressing Cuba to agree to restoration of normal diplomatic relations before the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April. This blogger, however, thinks that is unlikely given the inconclusive results of the initial negotiations in Havana in January and the lack of any announcement of a second round of talks that supposedly were going to happen in Washington this month.

More importantly Cuba has made statements suggesting that normal relations could not be commenced until the U.S. agrees its diplomats would not have private meetings with Cuban dissidents and rescinds its designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism.” Based on publicly available information, neither of these will happen before April. In addition, President Raúl Castro has suggested that such relations could only happen after the U.S. ends the embargo, pays compensation to Cuba for its alleged damages from the embargo and returns Guantanamo Bay to Cuba. Clearly these will not happen before April, if ever.

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[1] This account of the new regulations is based upon a Department of State document and reports from Reuters and Associated Press.