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U.S. loosens restrictions on Cuba travel, remittances amid summit blowback

Published 06/08/2022, 03:22 PM
Updated 06/08/2022, 03:27 PM
© Reuters.

By Daphne Psaledakis and Dave Sherwood

WASHINGTON/HAVANA (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday moved to lift some Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba even as it fended off criticism for blocking the Communist-run island and long-time foe from attending a regional summit this week.

The amended regulations, set to be published in the U.S. Federal Register on Thursday, will provide further fine print around a broader easing of U.S. restrictions on Cuba first announced by the administration of President Joe Biden in May.

A Treasury Department official said publication of the new regulations was purposefully aligned with the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

The conference was initially conceived as a platform to showcase U.S. leadership and support for Latin America. But that agenda has been partially undermined by a boycott by some regional leaders upset at Washington's decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Washington has said it has concerns about human rights and a lack of democracy in those three nations.

The Cuba-related rule changes this week allow U.S. citizens to once again travel to Cuba on group educational trips hosted by U.S.-based travel companies or organizations, and to attend professional meetings and conferences in Cuba.

The regulations also lift a $1,000 quarterly limit on family remittances to Cuban nationals who are close relatives and allow U.S. citizens to send funds to non-family members on the island.

The Biden administration last week removed restrictions on flights to Cuba imposed by former U.S. President Donald Trump, including ending a prohibition on U.S. airline flights to Cuban airports other than Havana.

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The United States has also promised to ramp up the number of immigrant visas it issues to Cuban nationals in a bid to combat a growing migration crisis at its border.

Cuba´s government has welcomed the changes but says they fall far short of lifting the Cold War-era embargo imposed on it by the United States, which it blames for the island's economic crisis.



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