For a little over two years now, everyone who comes to Cuba from where ever will ask the same question: "So, how are things now with all the changes?!" The intention is both naïve and endearing; most people actually think and believe that after December 17th of 2014, like magic á la Wizard of Oz, Dorothy (the Cuban Revolution) would magically receive the wand fluttering hand of the Good Witch of the North (in this case POTUS) and all things would be grand back in the land of Oz.
In order for things to "change," it's going to take a heck of a lot more than paying visits, watching baseball games and holding talks. We need common sense and a whole lot of chutzpah from the White House and/or a vote from the Hill.
Only then, will that much-awaited change actually come to fruition. Mind you, I am not just referring to sales of goods from the US or the freedom to travel; I am talking about real change, for the better or worse, but change.
Sorry to say, no, that has not been the case.
In Cuba we have a saying "El pollo del arroz con pollo" which roughly translates as "the gist of it" but in a much more picturesque manner basically referring to the main issue of any given event, act or action.
In 1917, the US Congress granted powers that enabled the President to "oversee or restrict any and all trade between the U.S. and its enemies in times of war." Ironically, the president to whom these powers were first granted was also the first sitting president to visit Cuba, Woodrow Wilson. To add further to the irony, Cuba and the US have not been at war, ever.
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed the below-mentioned Trading with the Enemy Act which pretty much set the blockade/embargo in motion. To this day and ever since President William J. Clinton signed Helms-Burton into law in 1992 all you basically need to do is what President Barack H. Obama did today, once again extending what JFK began over half a century ago. A pattern if ever there has been one.
Now the kicker in this whole charade of ironies is this: it is precisely the fact that presidential powers exist, such as this one that President Obama has been able to advance -albeit very little - in his rapprochement with Cuba; quite the Catch 22 I'd say.
So, has anything changed in Kansas? Are we back yet?
No, Toto, it hasn't and no, we're not...
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
SUBJECT: Continuation of the Exercise of Certain
Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act
Under section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223 (91 Stat. 1625; 50 U.S.C. 4305 note), and a previous determination on September 11, 2015 (80 FR 55503, September 16, 2015), the exercise of certain authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act is scheduled to terminate on September 14, 2016.
I hereby determine that the continuation for 1 year of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba is in the national interest of the United States.
Therefore, consistent with the authority vested in me by section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223, I continue for 1 year, until September 14, 2017, the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba, as implemented by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515.
The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.