President Obama, just prior to going to the Summit of the Americas, lifted some travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban Americans and opened the door for U.S. telecommunications companies to do business in Cuba, while promising a full review of U.S.-Cuban relations. Raul Castro responded Friday from a meeting in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez that "We have sent word to the U.S. government in private and in public that we are willing to discuss everything -- human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners, everything."
A thaw in the 50-year deep freeze of Washington-Havana relations seems to be in the offing. How far and how fast should Obama go? Should the U.S. trade embargo be dropped, and if so, when? What should be the key U.S. demands on the Castro regime? Should this be a careful step-by-step thaw or a rapid warming that quickly sends American capital, investment, and culture into the Castro brothers' midst? Or is improving relations with the Castro brothers a fool's errand -- will they just use the thaw to strengthen their rule and improve their economy without any real internal reforms?
-- Shane Harris, NationalJournal.com