Seven Steps President Barack Obama Can Take to Promote Change in Cuba

A new AS/COA report suggests using presidential authority to further U.S. policy towards Cuba.

New York, February 20, 2013—Presidential changes to the half-century old U.S. embargo on Cuba can help provide channels for private groups to support Cuba's incipient private sector. Based on an extensive analysis of legal, regulatory, and policy precedent, a new report released today by Americas Society/Council of the Americas' Cuba Working Group proposes seven specific steps that President Barack Obama can take to encourage private organizations and individuals to directly and indirectly serve as catalysts for meaningful economic change in Cuba. The proposed steps are feasible under existing executive authority and do not require congressional action.

They are:

  • Grant exceptions for commerce—including sales and imports—for businesses and individuals engaged in certifiably independent (i.e., non-state) economic activity.
  • Allow for the export and sale of goods and services to businesses and individuals engaged in certifiably independent (i.e., non-state) economic activity. 
  • Allow licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba to have access to U.S.-issued pre-paid cards and other financial services—including insurance.
  • Expand general licensed travel to include U.S. executives and their duly appointed agents to Cuba in financial services, travel and hospitality-related industries.
  • Expand general licensed travel to include any area defined as supporting independent economic activity.
  • Allow for the sale of telecommunications hardware—including cell towers, satellite dishes, and handsets—in Cuba.
  • Allow for the possibility for Cuba to request technical assistance from International Financial Institutions in the area of economic and institutional reform.

The Cuba Working Group report lays out the regulatory and legal basis for presidential authority to make the necessary reforms to further U.S. policy to Cuba.

Click here to view the report and the legal analysis behind the recommendations.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact Adriana La Rotta at or 212-277-8384.