The administration of Barack Obama, sworn in as US president Jan. 20, will eliminate some current US sanctions against Cuba but “it is not time to lift” the 47-year-old US economic embargo, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, DC on Jan. 13. Her appearance before the committee was part of a process that is expected to win her a quick confirmation as the new administration’s secretary of state. Clinton answered a number of questions orally and in writing about US relations with Latin America. The Obama administration “will return to a policy of vigorous involvement” in the region, she said.
“President-Elect Obama believes the Cuban-Americans especially can be important ambassadors for change in Cuba,” Clinton wrote in answer to a written question from Richard Lugar (R-IN). “As such, [Obama] believes that it makes both moral and strategic sense to lift the restrictions on family visits and family cash remittances to Cuba. We do not currently have a timeline for the announcement of such a new policy…” Lugar also asked about a number of other issues, including the possibility of taking Cuba off the State Department’s “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list; of increasing cooperation with Cuba in fighting drug trafficking; and of developing cooperation around “energy security and environmentally sustainable resource management.” Clinton didn’t go beyond indicating that the new administration “anticipate[s] a review of US policy regarding Cuba.” (La Jornada, Mexico, Jan. 14; Steve Clemons, Huffington Post, Jan. 16)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 18
See our last post on Cuba.