If rumors are confirmed, and Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel join Obama’s cabinet, the President would have constant access to the advice of two of the most respected, pragmatic and level-headed leaders when it comes to Cuba policy. Kerry has been critical of badly designed programs such as the one which landed Alan Gross in jail and a strong advocate of a common-sense approach including unencumbered family visits and people-to-people contacts: “I warmly applaud the President’s decision to allow more Americans to travel to Cuba. These measures, expanding people-to-people relations between the United States and Cuba and allowing Americans to send funds to Cubans for private economic activity, open the way for the good will of citizens of both countries to forge deeper ties that are in our national interest today and in the future. This is an important step. If governments cannot solve the problems between them, at least they should get out of the way and let citizens work toward finding solutions.
Hagel of course, has long been an advocate of a productive policy towards Cuba and a critic of the ineffective embargo who once said, when introducing legislation to open the Cuban market to American exports: “Passage of this provision, and the one last year, acknowledges what most Nebraska grain and livestock producers have always known – when the United States places unilateral sanctions on other nations, American producers are hurt, not the sanctioned nation.”