Statement by the President on Cuba Policy Changes
Cabinet Room 12:01 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.
In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.
There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 –- just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.
Meanwhile, the Cuban exile community in the United States made enormous contributions to our country –- in politics and business, culture and sports. Like immigrants before, Cubans helped remake America, even as they felt a painful yearning for the land and families they left behind. All of this bound America and Cuba in a unique relationship, at once family and foe.
Proudly, the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba through these five decades. We have done so primarily through policies that aimed to isolate the island, preventing the most basic travel and commerce that Americans can enjoy anyplace else. And though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people. Today, Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party that came to power half a century ago.
Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born. Consider that for more than 35 years, we’ve had relations with China –- a far larger country also governed by a Communist Party. Nearly two decades ago, we reestablished relations with Vietnam, where we fought a war that claimed more Americans than any Cold War confrontation. That’s why -– when I came into office -– I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy. As a start, we lifted restrictions for Cuban Americans to travel and send remittances to their families in Cuba. These changes, once controversial, now seem obvious. Cuban Americans have been reunited with their families, and are the best possible ambassadors for our values. And through these exchanges, a younger generation of Cuban Americans has increasingly questioned an approach that does more to keep Cuba closed off from an interconnected world.
December 17, 2014
FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba
Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.
It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.
We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.
Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas. We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people.
January 15, 2015
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Publication of Regulatory Changes regarding Cuba
Last month, President Obama announced historic changes to our Cuba policy, beginning the process of normalization between our countries, and announcing his commitment to ease restrictions on American citizens and businesses. Today, the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Commerce took a significant step forward in delivering on the President’s new direction by publishing regulatory amendments to existing Cuba sanctions. These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people.
We firmly believe that allowing increased travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba will allow the United States to better advance our interests and improve the lives of ordinary Cubans. The policy of the past has not worked for over 50 years, and we believe that the best way to support our interests and our values is through openness rather than isolation. The United States remains committed to our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a more prosperous Cuba that respects the universal rights of all its citizens.
- US – Cuba Relations : http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba
- United States Interests Section Havana, Cuba
- U.S. Department of State Travel to Cuba
- New Treasury Department Asset Regulations in regard to Cuba
- New Commerce Department Regulations Changing U.S. Export Policy On Cuba
- 4/14/15 Message to Congress — Report to Congress with Respect to the Proposed Rescission of Cuba’s Designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
- 4/14/15 Certification — Report to Congress with Respect to the Proposed Rescission of Cuba’s Designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
- 4/14/15 Statement by the Press Secretary on the Proposed Rescission of Cuba’s Designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
- 5/29/15 Rescission of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
- 6/1/15 President Obama delivers a statement on Re-establishing Diplomatic Relations with Cuba
- 7/1/15 Letter from Raul Castro — Re-establishing Diplomatic Relations and Permanent Diplomatic Missions
- 7/1/15 Presidential Letter — Re-establishing Diplomatic Relations and Permanent Diplomatic Missions
- 7/27/15 The Cuban embassy re-opens it’s doors in Washington D.C.
- 7/27/15 Secretary of State John Kerry meets Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in Washington, DC
- 1/26/16 Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on the Publication of New Regulatory Changes for Cuba Sanctions
- 3/16/16 Readout of the President’s Meeting with Cuban-American Leaders
- 1/12/17 Statement by the President on Cuban Immigration Policy
President Obama delivers a statement on Re-establishing Diplomatic Relations with Cuba
July 1, 2015
President Obama delivers remarks in the Rose Garden on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. July 1, 2015
Friday, August 14, 2015 9:45 AM ET
Secretary of State John Kerry raises the American flag to mark the re-opening of the U.S. Embassy
Monday, March 21- 22, 2016
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit Cuba