— -- As President Obama continues to make moves that will open up Cuba, he plans to leave the embargo for the next president to handle, he said in an interview airing today with CNN Español senior political anchor Juan Carlos Lopez.
“Ultimately, in order to bring down the entire embargo that is going require congressional action. There is bipartisan support to do so, but it is not yet at a critical mass,” Obama said.
“My strong prediction is that sometime in the next president's administration, whether they are a Democrat or a Republican, that the embargo in fact will be removed, because it makes sense for us to be able to sell into Cuba, to do business with Cubans, to show us business practices and how we treat workers and how we approach issues of human rights, that that will help bring about the kinds of changes that are needed," the president said.
A new set of treasury regulations could be announced in advance of Obama’s trip to Cuba next week, sources told ABC News.
One possibility includes the expansion of travel authorization for people-to-people cultural exchanges where they will no longer have to be part of a group, but can go as individuals. New flight regulations announced earlier this year are expected to begin in the fall, allowing commercial flights from the U.S. directly to Cuba. The combination of the expansion of travel authorization coupled with the direct commercial flights would mean huge changes for travelers wanting to visit Cuba.
In the interview with CNN Español, Obama also stressed he still plans to meet with dissidents while visiting Cuba next week.
"During my visit, I intend to meet with dissidents, critics of the Cuban government, just as I did when I was in Panama, and I had the opportunity to meet with activists from Cuba,” he said. “That was part of the deal for me to attend and have [Cuban President] Raul Castro there as well. And so we continue to press to make sure that over time we are widening more freedom for speech, assembly, religion, inside of Cuba."
The administration has said that the agreement to go to Cuba and meet with Raul Castro was contingent on Obama's ability to meet with Cuban dissidents without restriction.