Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Axelrod and Summers on Sunday Shows


HARRY SMITH: The President eased travel restrictions with Cuba earlier this week. Raul Castro came
back and said we want to talk. The same question again applies to Cuba. What does Cuba have to put on
the table to say we actually are interested in having in-- more normal relations or something close to
normal relations?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, as you know, Mister Castro made an interesting speech in which he said
everything was on the table--human rights, political prisoners, democracy. He also said something
interesting. He said we may not have been right about some of our assumptions, which is the first time
we’ve heard that from the Cubans.
So if all of that pans out, it’s-- it’s an encouraging development. And certainly we’re going to pursue that.
But there are certain things that they should do right away. One is we’ve now eased remittances from
families here back to Cuba. The Cuban government should stop taking thirty percent off the top of that
money when it arrives.
We’ve suggested that our cabe-- our cellular companies can begin to negotiate contracts there. The
Cuban government should receive that and act on that, because it would be positive for both-- both Cuba
and the world for there to be free flow of communications.
HARRY SMITH: Although there are-- there are European companies that have cable and cellular
contracts there. I mean, it’s not like this is--
DAVID AXELROD: (Overlapping) No, but it would make an enormous difference if this was done.
And thirdly, they ought to begin to move on the issue of political prisoners. That would be a very positive
But look, there’s no doubt that the fifty years of policy we’ve had has not been very successful in
changing the realities on the island of Cuba. And this is an encouraging week.
HARRY SMITH: Any thought in the White House now to lifting the embargo?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, we’re a long way from that. As I said, there are-- there are many steps that need
to be taken. But we-- these are encouraging signs. And we intend to pursue them.

Meet the Press

MR. GREGORY: Cuba and a potential thaw between U.S. and Cuba relations has really dominated the summit business there, even though it hasn't officially been on the agenda. This week the administration eased up some of the restrictions on travel between Cuban-Americans going back to see relatives and also the flow of money, sending money back to relatives back in Cuba. Cuba has also signaled that it's willing to have a more open dialogue with the Obama administration, and increased calls for the U.S. to lift the embargo against Cuba. This is where the politics meets the economic. Under what circumstances would President Obama lift the 47-year-old embargo?
DR. SUMMERS: That's way down the road, and it's going to depend on what Cuba did--Cuba does going forward. You know, what the president announced this week is what he's been talking about for two years. It's a set of measures that are grounded in American interests, that are grounded in morality, letting families get back together, together again. Cuba's known what it needs to do for a very long time and it's up to them in terms of their policies, their democratization, all of the steps that they can take. And we'll have to see what happens down the road.
MR. GREGORY: What is the economic case for lifting the embargo?
DR. SUMMERS: Obviously it's, it's desirable to be able to trade in as many directions as possible. But fundamentally, David, this is an issue that's going to get decided on the basis of Cuba's behavior, on the basis of the steps that they, that they choose to take or that they choose not to take in terms of their policies in this hemisphere. And it's about really whether they want to rejoin the community of nations in Latin America or not. And we'll have to see, we'll have to see what they're prepared to do. The president's decisions are really going to be grounded in what's best for the United States.

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