On December 17, President Obama announced that he will take steps to normalize relations with Cuba, prompting questions about what this means for an island nation that has existed under a Cold War-era embargo for more than 50 years. The announcement indicates a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba, affecting not only diplomatic relations but also U.S.-Cuban economic ties and travel. Mr. Obama, however, carefully pointed out that the shift in U.S. policy will begin with executive action. The U.S. embargo against Cuba is codified in legislation, meaning that Congress must act to lift these sanctions entirely. Close observers of congressional politics may agree that this will probably present a challenge to normalization.
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