Hmm, does "play cousin" count?
Now that the Obama administration has relaxed the rules for Cuban-Americans who wish to visit relatives in Cuba, and some of us are champing at the bit for the opportunity to chomp down legally on Cuban cigars, the question becomes: Who or what is family?
That's not as easy a question to answer as you might think.
When Bill Clinton was president, family, for the purpose of visiting Cuba, consisted of mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles and aunts. You could probably slip a "play cousin" – a close friend who isn't a blood relative but might as well be – in there, too, and visit Cuba once a year.
Under George W. Bush, visits to Cuba by cousins, uncles and aunts were verboten. And visits by the immediate family were limited to once every three years.
Barack Obama's critics will no doubt lambast him for presumably kow-towing to the Castro dictatorship by taking a tentative but obvious first step toward eventually ending the 50-year embargo against the island nation. Efforts by previous American presidents to smoke Castro out by choking off the country economically have only increased Cubans' misery and poverty, while Castro, and now his brother, Raul, still rule.
Lifting the embargo is an idea whose time has come, and one that has bipartisan support. A bill introduced this year in Congress would allow unlimited travel, and you wouldn't even have to do your Sister Sledge "We Are Family" routine to make the trip.
Under Obama's plan, Cuban-Americans could send an unlimited amount of money to their relatives in Cuba, as opposed to the $300 per quarter allowed under Bush.
To read the complete column, visit www.newsobserver.com.