US and Cuba Relations

The United States government has officially removed Cuba from its list of terrorist-sponsoring nations. This is a very important step in the direction of repairing diplomatic ties with the communist country. The new policy will not cancel the strict trade sanctions that Congress has imposed on Cuba for decades, but it is a sign that the many weird laws the United States has maintained with regard to Cuba are in the process of unraveling.

The plans to remove Cuba from the list of terrorist countries was announced in the middle of last month by President Barack Obama. That announcement triggered a 45-day period for congressional review, which came to a close on Friday.

Process Triggered by Historic Meeting with Raul Castro

The process of removing Cuba from the list actually began earlier, stemming from a request issued by Obama on Dec. 17 of last year. Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro that day to talk about repairing diplomatic ties, which have been severed since 1961. Taking Cuba off the terrorism list is more of a symbolic gesture than anything else at this point, but it does remove the ban on Cuba's receipt of U.S. economic aid, a ban on United States firearms exports to Cuba and various controls on items considered to be of dual military and civilian use.

Nevertheless, the majority of the trade restrictions will stay in place for the time being. For example, Cuba will still be restricted with regard to exports and foreign aid related to a wide-sweeping trade and weapons embargo that the United States maintains over the nation. As of yet, there is no news as to when and if American citizens will again be permitted to freely and legally travel to the island nation; however, Congress is currently deliberating over lifting the travel ban.

Embargo Against Cuba Growing More Controversial

The trade and travel bans against Cuba have been seen as an unnecessary law in recent years, as more and more people in Congress and the United States begin to see Cuba as a non-threatening nation with whom the United States should restore ties.