Pitbull, Rosa Clemente Speak on Renewed U.S.-Cuba Relations

The Obama Administration has taken the first step to mending 50 years of antagonism with Cuba by relaxing some of the gift and travel restrictions with the socialist nation. The main purpose of the policy change is to give Cuban Americans and their relatives better access to each other through travel, and the exchange of funds and goods.

According to White House Latin American policy adviser Dan Restrepo, President Obama hopes the move will create “independence” and “space” for Cuban people “to start the process to a more democratic Cuba.”

Although key provisions from the long-standing trade embargo were modified, non-Cuban Americans are still restricted from traveling, and gifts to high-ranking officials of the Cuban government are still forbidden.

Lead by young revolutionaries Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Ernesto “Che" Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Huber Matos, the rebel forces utilized strategic guerrilla warfare to successfully overthrow the oppressive Fulgencio Batista regime on January 1, 1959.

Soon after, Fidel Castro aligned the nation with the Soviet Union, nationalized all foreign interests in Cuba, and removed all democratic and liberal advocates from power.

These actions facilitated the United States’ long-standing trade embargo, and lead to several clashes such as the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961), and near nuclear holocaust in the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962).

Due to mounting medical issues, Fidel Castro stepped down as president in 2006 and transferred duties to brother Raul Castro.

A long-time critic of Castro’s regime and the deification of Che Guevara in popular culture, Cuban rapper Pitbull is hopeful that President Obama’s diplomatic relations will eventually move Cuba into democracy.

"I feel that this is a step in the right direction and hopefully we will live to see the day they free Cuba,” Pitbull said in a statement. “Farfetched for now but there is nothing wrong with dreaming."

Former 2008 Green Party VP candidate Rosa Clemente was less optimistic of Obama’s latest move.

The celebrated African-American, Latino, and Hip-Hop activist interprets the eased restrictions as nothing more than pandering to Miami’s conservative Cuban base.

“It’s nothing new. The embargo stays. If you aren’t Cuban or of Cuban descent, you can’t travel,” Clemente explained. “Only people from Cuba or of Cuban descent can go. Also, if your relative works for or is a member of the Communist Party, you are not allowed to send or receive money. It’s really for him [Obama] to shore up the vote of the right wing Cuban Lobby in Miami. It’s nothing new, it’s not progressive. If it really doesn’t involve the embargo, or if Cuba cannot be at The Summit of Americas taking place next week, what’s the point? It’s a lot of overkill media wise.”

President Obama has already left for Trinidad and Tobago to attend the Summit of Americas, which brings together all the powerful countries in the hemisphere.

In recent years, Cuba has been barred from attending.

In a recent CNN poll, 64 percent of Americans stated that the United States’ travel ban on Cuba should be lifted.

At press time, a group of 20 bipartisan senators are preparing a proposal to lift the ban.