Charting a New Course: U.S. Takes First Steps To Improve Relations with Cuba
53 years after the United States severed its ties with Cuba under the Kennedy administration, President Obama has announced an end to our outdated policies regarding Cuba, with plans to promote change that is consistent with U.S. support for the Cuban people and in line with U.S. national security interests.
Today marks the beginning of a historic “thaw” in relations with Cuba, in which we will work to re-establish diplomatic ties with Havana and ease long-standing trade and travel sanctions. This is the most significant development in diplomatic U.S.-Cuba relations since the introduction of the Cuban Embargo in 1961, as an official statement from the White House stated, “We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse.”
The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba, and in the coming months we will re-establish an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between our two governments.
Cigar-lovers have reason to celebrate, as licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba will now be authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, with the restriction that no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined.
Under the President’s new approach, the United States will also work with Cuba on matters of mutual concern and that advance U.S. national interests, such as migration, counternarcotics, environmental protection, and trafficking in persons, among other issues.
The White House announced these steps after Cuba released American prisoner Alan Gross on humanitarian grounds as part of a negotiation between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. The two leaders met on Tuesday to discuss plans for Gross’s release as well as the release of three Cubans held in the United States in exchange for a “US intelligence asset.”
While it’s too early to say how exactly these new changes will impact U.S. consumers’ access to the coveted Cuban cigars on a large scale, this development certainly seems like a step in the right direction. Check back with Best Cigar Blog for updates on the policy change as they unfold.