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Policy Shift Follows Grueling Lobbying Push

December 18, 2014

President Obama’s decision to craft a more open relationship with Cuba comes as a victory for business interests and humanitarian advocates alike, both of which have long tried to poke holes in a half century-old embargo.
Both types of groups have spent years urging the U.S. to loosen restrictions on Cuba, underscoring how popular opinion has shifted away from the hard-line approach that Washington has taken since the days of Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

“The coalition that is for this change is broader and more vocal than many of those people who are against it,” said Christopher Sabatini, senior policy director at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), which applauded Wednesday’s move.

In all, hundreds of business groups, ranging from the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce to corporate titans like Caterpillar, urged the U.S. to ease up on Cuba.

Business leaders see breaking down the barriers between Washington and Havana as a way to open a new markets just 90 miles from American shores. They’ve sought the sort of changes announced Wednesday for more than 15 years, dating back at least to when then-Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in January 1998....

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