By Aaron Humes: Cuba is set to see restrictions on family remittances and travel to the island eased in a reversal of tough sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, the BBC reports.
The processing of U.S. visas for Cubans will also be speeded up. The loosening of sanctions will see a cap on family remittances – funds sent by migrants in the U.S. to family members in Cuba – removed. Previously migrants were prevented from sending more than $1,000 every three months. Donations to non-family members will also be permitted under the new plans, but U.S. officials emphasized that they will seek to ensure such payments don’t reach “those who perpetrate human rights abuses” by using civilian “electronic payment processors”.
They also said that no bodies will be removed from the Cuba Restricted List, a State Department register of companies linked to the communist government in Havana with whom U.S. citizens are barred from doing business.
A Biden administration official told CBS News that more charter and commercial flights will be made available to Havana, U.S. consular services on the island will be expanded and family reunification programs will be relaunched.
After an easing of tensions under former President Barack Obama, Trump announced a range of sanctions on the Cuban government in 2017, citing human rights concerns as the reason for rolling back agreements made by the Obama administration and condemning his predecessor for doing a deal with the country’s “brutal” government.
Cuba’s foreign minister welcomed the announcement and said the easing of restrictions marked “a small step in the right direction, but Bruno Rodriguez added that the policy does “not modify the embargo” in place since 1962 and argued that “neither the objectives nor the main instruments of the United States’ policy against Cuba, which is a failure, are changing”.
The change has attracted criticism from high-profile senators on both sides of the political aisle, concerned it sends the wrong message.