February 16, 2011
Latin American Herald Tribune
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has “significant authority” to
expand U.S.-Cuba links without approval from Congress, according to a
report released Tuesday.
The analysis was prepared by attorney Stephen Propst at the request of the Washington-based Cuba Study Group, which urges a peaceful transition to democracy on the Communist-ruled island.
Obama announced last month the easing of restrictions on academic, cultural and religious travel to Cuba but, according to the analysis to which Efe had access, the president could do a lot more.
“Those measures were significant, but here we argue that President Obama could do more to ease the embargo and in that way support U.S. foreign policy goals with regard to the island, such as providing humanitarian aid for the Cuban people and promoting democratic reforms,” Propst, a partner with the law firm of Hogan Lovells U.S., LLP, told Efe.
“The popular belief has been that the president has limited authority to ease sanctions, but really there are more concrete actions he could authorize, and we have simply tried to point them out,” he said.
Propst specifies several changes Obama could authorize without congressional approval, such as issuing “general licenses” that would allow more Americans to travel to Cuba without written permission.
He could also establish general licenses for supplying Cuba with certain services related to the Internet, authorize consulting and marketing services for Cuban entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as some record-label services for musicians and artists, according to the document.
He can also authorize U.S. banks to finance payments for exports to Cuba, and authorize the purchase of certain goods and services from the island.
Propst’s report “is an exhaustive analysis which outlines the concrete steps that President Obama can take to increase the free flow of ideas and aid for civil society in Cuba,” Tomas Bilbao, executive director of the Cuba Study Group, told Efe.
“At such a key moment in Cuba’s history, it’s important for the president to have the flexibility to respond quickly to events on the island,” he said.
Propst’s analysis was to be presented Tuesday during a Brookings Institution forum on the future of bilateral relations with the participation of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has made several trips to Cuba. EFE