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Change in U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Could Be on Horizon

Americans with family in Cuba have long struggled with restrictions that limit travel back home, among other issues. With Democrats in charge of Congress and Fidel Castro relinquishing power to his brother, a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba could be near.

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    For many Cuban-born Americans, the right to return home at their own convenience has been restricted far too long. Arlene Garcia still despairs about missing her mother's funeral 12 years ago.

  • ARLENE GARCIA, Cuban-born American:

    I was not able to go to her funeral, and I was not able to spend any time with my family at that time, consoling my dad.


    Garcia had already traveled to Cuba once during that year, and U.S. government policy at the time allowed just one annual trip. Today, it's even more strict: just one visit every three years, regardless of how urgent the need.


    You know, the Cuban government actually doesn't prohibit me from going there. My own government, you know, the government that I'm willing to give my life for, the United States, is the one that is — or, not the government, but the country — prohibits me from going to Cuba.


    Ever since the Cuban revolution in 1959, when Fidel Castro's long reign as communist dictator began, the State Department has restricted Cuban-Americans to just limited trips back to the island nation, while most other Americans have been barred outright from trading with, investing in, or traveling there.

    But times are changing in Cuba, as well as in the United States. After undergoing intestinal surgery last summer, Fidel Castro relinquished power to his brother, Raul. And with Democrats now in control of Congress in Washington, the first significant change in U.S. policy towards Cuba could be near.

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