One outcome of the circus surrounding the Elian Gonzalez case has been increased scrutiny of U.S.-Cuba policy and renewed hopes for a better relationship with the island nation. Activists and legislators hope to change sanctions policies that they believe have served mainly to hurt the Cuban people and further entrench the Castro regime.
In late March, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by notoriously hard-line Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), passed a measure that would significantly ease the embargo on Cuba by allowing the sale of food and relaxing restrictions on medical sales. Though Senate approval is likely, advocacy and education efforts will still be necessary to get it through the House.
"It's not everything we'd like, but it's a step forward," said Mavis Anderson of the Latin America Working Group. Anderson was cautiously optimistic that there was enough support to pass the measure, acknowledging that resistance from Republican House leadership and Miami Cubans will be especially strong in an election year.