It's been about four months since President Obama announced looser restrictions on travel and sending money to Cuba. But they haven't gone into effect yet, the Treasury Department confirms to NEWSWEEK. So what's the holdup?
Some in the "Cuba lobby"—Cuban-Americans in Congress like Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Sen. Bob Menendez—suggest the administration may be mulling their objections (Menendez questions lifting remittance restrictions; he favors travel). Others cite red tape in an administration dealing with 1,001 issues.
But a State Department official, who isn't authorized to speak for the record about internal policy discussions, suggests one reason for the delay is a flurry of new talks between the countries that could lead to an even wider opening to Cuba, including a lifting of restrictions on diplomatic movements. "There are discussions going on, and some new things have been put on the table," says the State official.
In late July, in yet another sign that the Obama administration wants to make nice, the State Department shut down an electronic billboard that the Bush administration had erected across the front of the building that houses the U.S. interests section in Havana. The billboard, which is said to have irked Fidel Castro, continually flashed quotes about freedom from American icons like Lincoln and King. But with Castro's brother, Raúl, in charge, Team Obama believes that it can make more progress talking than sniping.