United States and Cuba relations: Impact on you - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

United States and Cuba relations: Impact on you

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - More than 50 years ago Fidel Castro led a Communist revolution in Cuba and shortly after, the United States ended relations with Cuba. Now, that's changing.

"These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked," said President Obama. "It's time for a new approach."

It will now be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba -- and bring back hundreds of dollars worth of stuff, up to $100 worth of cigars and alcohol.

You can't go there on vacation -- but with licenses for certain reasons.

According to a White House Fact Sheet:

"General licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in the following existing categories: (1) family visits; (2) official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; (3) journalistic activity; (4) professional research and professional meetings; (5) educational activities; (6) religious activities; (7) public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; (8) support for the Cuban people; (9) humanitarian projects; (10) activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; (11) exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and (12) certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines."

"For most U.S. citizens I don't think it means much change," said Lynda Barrow, a Political Science Professor at Coe College, who researches Latin American politics. "I think it will get to be a bit easier if you want to go and do some kind of research, or educational, or some kind of service project."

She says that for most of us, the new relations with Cuba might not mean anything now but could.

"If the U.S. takes what a lot of people say is the logical next step, which is to remove the half-century old embargo, then that could make a big difference in terms of trade, undoubtedly it would make a big difference," said Barrow.

However, ending the embargo requires Congressional approval and already some are speaking out against the President's announcement, because it does not require democracy in Cuba.

Senator Grassley sent out this statement following the President's announcement:

“This policy change is a gift for the Cuban government that has done nothing to provide basic, fundamental human rights to the Cuban people. According to our own Department of State, the authoritarian regime led by the Castros for decades ‘has severely restricted fundamental freedoms, repressed political opponents, and violated human rights.' Today's announcement of eased economic and diplomatic relations is not a result of democratic or economic reforms or a newfound respect for human rights or religious freedom. This decision rewards a brutal regime without any significant commitment toward change for the oppressed Cuban people.”

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