This was not such a big surprise: Obama will use spring summit to bring Cuba in from the cold | The Observer:
The announcement, which is in line with Mr. Obama’s campaign pledge, is timed to coincide with his trip this week to Trinidad and Tobago for a gathering of Latin American and Caribbean leaders, where he may face calls to ease restrictions even further. Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are also urging the administration to do more, and are pursuing legislation that would allow all Americans, not just those with family ties to Cuba, to travel freely there.
Mr. Obama is not lifting the longstanding trade embargo with Cuba. But according to a senior administration official, who spoke anonymously in advance of Mr. Gibbs’s briefing, the president will use his executive authority to shift policy toward Cuba in three specific areas.
But not without the usual right wing fantasists doing their usual tap dancing for the Florida vote:
"President Barack Obama is poised to offer an olive branch to Cuba in an effort to repair the US's tattered reputation in Latin America.
The White House has moved to ease some travel and trade restrictions as a cautious first step towards better ties with Havana, raising hopes of an eventual lifting of the four-decade-old economic embargo. Several Bush-era controls are expected to be relaxed in the run-up to next month's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago to gild the president's regional debut and signal a new era of 'Yankee' cooperation"
The Cuban Embargo has only hurt cigar smokers and professional baseball teams, but it stays because of Florida's electoral votes."The dumbest thing we could do today would be to enact legislation unilaterally lifting the embargo. Set aside questions about the embargo's efficacy. Like it or not, it is our only leverage, aside from our military, to affect the transition in Cuba. Why would we fritter away that leverage just as time prepares to do what the embargo could not -- bring about the end of the Castro regime? Fidel was never going to negotiate a loosening of repression in Cuba in exchange for a lifting of the travel ban and other trade restrictions. But those who succeed him will, and the Castro brothers will soon be gone. The question is: When that happens, what power will the United States have to encourage a democratic transition on the island? Instead of strengthening Raúl by lifting the embargo now, we should keep our powder dry and use it to strengthen democracy and influence his successor. The embargo has been in place for 47 years -- at this point, it would be foolish not to wait a little longer."
Scotland's Sunday Herald has some pictures showing what Cuban life is like now here. Castor would not have lasted this long if he had to contend with open and free trade with us.