Hurricanes Prompt Calls to Soften Restrictions on Cuba
Some see aid now as a path toward increased influence, cooperation
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2008 10:28 AM CDT
A boy plays in a flooded street after Hurricane Ike.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The devastation Hurricanes Gustav and Ike wrought on Cuba has prompted the US to offer direct aid for the first time in the 47-year history of its embargo on the island, but even ardent anti-Castro Cuban Americans are pushing for more, the Washington Post reports. While not all favor lifting the embargo, there is a broad consensus that limits on travel and remittances from the US are oppressive, particularly in this time of crisis.

Cuban Americans can send just $300 a month to family back home, and travel there only once every 3 years. The US offer of aid has been rejected, while Cuba is receiving relief supplies from Russia and, soon, Venezuela. Anti-Communist Cubans are frustrated. “We are wasting the greatest opportunity for those who want freedom and democracy in Cuba to help and be agents of change,” said the leader of one Cuban exile group.