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article imageOp-Ed: Death of a Cuban leader, lifted restrictions signal new future

By Jay David Murphy     Sep 13, 2009 in World
After almost a half-century of restrictions, barriers, and tensions, two changes this September have signaled changes foreshadowing a possible new future in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.
Two events involving Cuba signal that change is on the horizon in its U.S. relations after decades of tension.
First, there has been an easing of sanctions against Cuba in relation to Cuban Americans visiting family in the island nation and sending them money.
Second, Juan Almeida, one of the Cuban revolutionaries who fought alongside former Communist leader Fidel Castro, died of a heart attack Friday evening.
Although unrelated, both events are a foreshadowing of things to come.
At 82, Almeida was a vice president and member of the communist government Central Committee, one of the few black leaders, and one of the remaining Cuban leaders who held the title of “Commander of the Revolution.”
In an article in Cuba’s state-run Juventud Rebelde they said he died of cardiac arrest. The article continued by repeating his famous quote, “¡Aquí no se rinde nadie”, which translated means “No one surrenders here!”
The article also said that , “On Sunday the 13th, between 8 am and 8 pm will be declared official mourning, our people can pay tribute of appreciation and affection to his memory at the José Martí Memorial in Havana that was his birthplace, in the Hall of stained glass at the base of the monument to Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba-the heroic city which he loved dearly, where he fought against the forces of tyranny and later worked as head of the party, as Delegate of the Politburo in the former Eastern Province - as well as in the capitals of all provinces, including the Isle of Youth where he was imprisoned after the assault on the Moncada barracks.”
On September 4, the U.S.Treasury announced changes in regulations lifting restrictions on Cuban Americans so they can visit their families and transfer money to them. This move falls in line with President Obama’s April 13 initiative which reaches “out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future, promote greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba, and increase the flow of remittances and information to the Cuban people.”
President Obama’s decision was a significant shift in the U.S. policy that had remained almost unchanged for all most 50 years.
With the changes, U.S. travelers may now make unlimited visits to family members and Americans can send unlimited amounts of money to family residing in Cuba. The changes also allow telephone calls with people to Cuba through non-Cuban providers. Restrictions of non-Cuban descent remain unchanged in travel restrictions between the U.S. and the island nation of Cuba.
Has events continue to initiate changes, after almost half a century, it is in the foreseeable future that relations between the United States and Cuba will continue ease and old barriers will continue to fall , new alliances made, old friendships re-newed, and new friendships made.
As the Berlin wall fell, as Russia became a democracy, as Europe has united, so can America and Cuba begin a new chapter in their relationship in a new century, with new visions, new dreams, and with a little luck, a new age of friendship can begin and a past can be put to rest and both countries can prosper in a re-newed cooperative spirit.
With hope, the death of Almieda and the re-uniting of families from Cuba and the U.S. are both signals that can foster in a new birth between two nations that will treat each other as partners in this new world, in this new century, and give new meaning to “¡Aquí no se rinde nadie.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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