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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:Obstacles Stand in Way of Thaw in U.S. - Cuban and Venezuelan Relations
24 Apr 2009
BETWEEN THE LINES Syndicated Radio Newsmagazine
Obstacles Stand in Way of Thaw in U.S. - Cuban and Venezuelan Relations

Interview with Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, conducted by Scott Harris

During the recent 34-nation Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago, President Obama struck a very different tone than his predecessor George Bush in dealing with U.S. adversaries Cuba and Venezuela. In advance of the meeting, Obama announced the lifting of all restrictions on Cuban-Americans' travel to Cuba and remittances sent to family members on the island. These developments were welcomed among most Latin American nations that strongly favor a lifting of the 47-year U.S. Cold War-era economic embargo against Cuba.

Cuban President Raul Castro responded to Obama's loosening of restrictions with an indication of his willingness to discuss issues important to Washington, such as the release of political prisoners and a reduction of fees charged on remittances sent by Americans to Cuba relatives.

An impromptu handshake at the Summit, where Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave Obama a book by Edward Galeano titled, "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent," momentarily eased tensions between the nations with the likely exchange of ambassadors who had been previously recalled. Conservative critics predictably reacted with anger at Obama's new conciliatory approach on U.S. Latin American relations. Sen. John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, attacked Obama's handshake with Chavez as "irresponsible." Between The Lines's Scott Harris spoke with Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, who assesses Obama's actions at the summit and the obstacles standing in the way of a possible thaw in U.S.-Cuban and Venezuelan relations.

Contact the Center for Economic Policy Research by calling (202) 293-5380 or visit their website at



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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
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©2009 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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