The Communist Party of Cuba announced yesterday that starting next year Cubans will be allowed to travel anywhere they wish without permission from the state. This may not seem like such a big deal for the United States, but it is.
In the short-term, the Party is trying playing the immigration card a few weeks before the U.S. presidential election. Why? In part, because it can. They think they can influence votes in South Florida’s large Cuban-American community by using the immigration/family reunification talisman to divide voters in Miami. I can think of at least one Congressional race where this could become an minor issue, but it is mostly quixotic.
If the regime sticks with this decision, and we’ll need to see details because I suspect it will chock full of conditions, the next President and Congress will have many legal and policy decisions to make about various U.S. laws, including the Cuban Adjustment Act (which should have been repealed and replaced long time ago). It was only a matter of time before the regime used this approach to try to force the United States to the negotiating table on the sanctions question with a kind of legal Mariel boat lift.
Rather than focusing on the death of Fidel Castro or the fake reforms implemented by Raul Castro, we should have been on top of this possible policy shift from Cuba a while ago. It was only a matter of time before they tried to do this.
The Obama Administration should respond before the elections with some measures that bite, today. I doubt they will. Stay tuned.