September 14, 2009

Obama extends Cuba embargo for only 1 year

POLITICS - In the United States today President Barack Obama extended the U.S. trade embargo on the Communist nation of Cuba for one year.

Usually U.S. Presidents renew the trade embargo for four years, the length of their presidency, but Obama renewed it for only a single year, a symbolic gesture which gives Congress another year to solve their differences with Cuba.

There have been numerous signs of a thaw in U.S.-Cuban ties. Early last year Raul Castro took over as president from his brother, Fidel. Fidel Castro has been the Cuban head of state since leading the revolution that ousted the corrupt U.S.-backed Batista regime on January 1st 1959.

Under existing U.S. law, the Helms-Burton Act, Congress is required to take action specifically ending the trade embargo, but diplomacy is often a slow process and the easing of U.S.-Cuban animosity is bogged down in negotiations and red tape.

The last extension by former President George W. Bush ran out on September 11th 2009.

When the trade embargo does end it means the United States and Cuba will finally be able to explore options that would create cooperation between their two nations. Currently Cuba serves as a cheap vacation spot for Canadians, British and other nations.

Cuba's economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism. Its only other economic virtues is sugarcane, tobacco, nickel, citrus fruits and coffee.

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