Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama set to ease Cuban ban on travel, money‏

From the AP:

The Obama administration intends to allow Americans to visit relatives in Cuba and send money back to their families on the communist island nation, senior U.S. officials said Saturday.

President Barack Obama plans to announce the policy change before the Summit of the Americas April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

Although some restrictions have been eased temporarily in legislation Obama signed last month, lifting the bans would meet a pledge he made during the presidential campaign and could signal a new openness with Cuba.

"The intent is to try to test the waters and see if we can get Cuba to move in another direction," one official said. "One way of getting the regime to open up may be to let people travel, increase exchanges and get money flowing to the island."

The official said there is no plan to lift the decades-old embargo on the island and that the move "is just the president fulfilling a campaign promise."

As a candidate, Obama promised to allow unlimited family travel and remittances to Cuba. "It's time to let Cuban-Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and their brothers," he said in a speech last May in Miami. "It's time to let Cuban-American money make their families less dependent on the Castro regime."

There are growing calls in Congress to repeal restrictions on Cuba.

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