|Frick Curry. Photo: ciponline.org/|
In any event, this is an enormous amount of money given the size of the Cuban economy. In a very real sense, Cuban-Americans are making their own policy toward Cuba and are far more important actors than government officials in Washington. The $20 million or so that USAID spends every year on regime change is inconsequential compared to the flow of remittances and the money spent by Cuban-Americans visiting the island.Curry's opinion appears in a March 28 document called "Promoting Change in U.S. Policy Toward Cuba: A Case Study from a Non-profit Advocacy Group."
In the document, Curry says that while U.S.-Cuba relations have stalled, this could be a year of change. He writes:
- Both Cuba and the United States have undergone dramatic changes during the past fifty years, yet their relations with each other are little changed from the 1960s.
- Barack Obama’s election in 2008 seemed to promise a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, which is frozen in the amber of the Cold war. Although in its first term the administration took some welcome steps to ease restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans, neither the ban on travel by non-Cuban Americans nor the embargo itself have been relaxed.
- By all logic 2013 should be a banner year for improving relations with Cuba. Not only is President Obama in his second term, but he won it with 48% of Florida’s Cuban-American vote. Floridians also elected the state’s first Democratic Cuban-American congressman, Joe Garcia. It is clear that attitudes in South Florida are greatly shifting.
- In addition, the new secretary of state, John Kerry, has expressed serious skepticism about our current failed policy.
- There is also a strong geopolitical reason to improve relations: Every single country in Latin America, both friend and foe, calls for our doing so. At the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena the unanimous message to the U.S. was it’s time to move on if we want to be a player in the region.
- Finally, the people of the United States and Cuba are engaging, even if their governments are not. Last year, 400,000 Cuban-Americans visited Cuba.