Obama urged to end Bush's Cuba embargo
Washington, Dec 11 (IANS) Cuban dissidents in exile and US academics have urged president-elect Barack Obama to ease restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba as a first step toward normalizing relations with the communist-ruled island.
Dissident leader Tomas Bilbao and former US diplomat Wayne Smith, told EFE, despite their different ideologies, they are united in their demand to eliminate a 'failed' policy of isolation against Cuba.
It is time for Obama, who will take office Jan 20, to give new direction to Washington's present Cuba policy which is a vestige of the Cold War, they said.
'If the 28 countries of Eastern Europe taught us anything it's that there is a direct correlation between the level of opening of a society and the successful transition to democracy,' Bilbao said.
In his opinion, the United States should lift the travel and remittance prohibitions not only for Cuban Americans - as Obama has promised to do - but 'for all Americans.'
According to the US embargo, Cuban Americans can pay one visit to the island every three years and send $300 per quarter to relatives there, in both cases only to 'immediate relatives.' People who violate the restrictions are subject to fines and prison terms.
A growing majority of Cuban exiles support more flexibility in Washington's policy toward the island, according to recent surveys.
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