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US eases travel and remittance restrictions with Cuba

The US eases travel and remittance restrictions with Cuba - Photo 1.

People walk at a market in Havana, Cuba – Photo: REUTERS

The US announced the new measures after a lengthy deliberation, marking the most significant changes in the US approach to Havana since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.

However, this move only stops at bringing US-Cuba relations back to the way of former President Barack Obama, when Mr. Biden was still vice president. That means fewer restrictions on remittance flows, reduced travel restrictions, and faster visa processing.

According to Reuters news agency, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the new measures were introduced to “additional support to the Cuban people”.

Specifically, the US will remove the previous limit on remittance flows of $1,000 per quarter, and allow charitable remittances to non-family members.

However, the US State Department clarified that Washington will not remove the names of organizations on the “Cuban Restricted List”. This is a list of companies affiliated with the Cuban government and military that US businesses and citizens are prohibited from doing business with.

An official in the administration of President Joe Biden said the United States would use “electronic payment processors” to avoid sending money directly to the Cuban government, and that Washington and the Cuban government were working to “establish a civilian processor for this”.

According to Reuters, there are currently few details on how the new policy will be implemented. But officials said revised steps would be taken in the coming weeks.

Commenting on the US move on Twitter, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called it a step in the right direction but limited.

“This decision does not change the embargo, the listing of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, nor most of Mr. Trump’s maximum pressure coercive measures that still affect the Cuban people.” Rodriguez said on Twitter.

Under former President Donald Trump, the US has enacted restrictions related to visas as well as money transfers and the number of flights. The United States also increased barriers for American citizens wanting to visit Cuba, except to visit family.

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