Now that Barack Obama has been elected to be the next president of the United States, the world will be waiting for the change that he has promised. While issues such as the global economic crisis and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will take months, years, or even decades to resolve, President-elect Obama has the opportunity to send an immediate signal of change to the world through a new approach to Cuba policy.
Beyond the domestic political benefit of acknowledging a changing Cuban American community, a new approach to Cuba would send an important signal to the world. It would be relatively easy to demonstrate immediate change through a simple Federal Register notice and a new diplomatic approach. Even small changes in policy and rhetoric would send a strong message to U.S. allies, particularly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere, who will be looking for early signs from the next administration. "The next administration needs to have an early win," says former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Peter Romero. Romero, who was a key player in the Clinton administration's second-term efforts to increase people-to-people exchanges, adds, "We've been on a losing streak for so long, something that breaks the paradigm and shows bold strokes would have an enormous impact. I think you can do that with Cuba."