Friday, September 20, 2019

Eased Travel Restrictions to Cuba

Congress has approved a spending bill that includes easing trade and travel restrictions against Cuba. The provisions are part of a $410 billion spending bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday and passed earlier by the House of Representatives. Later today, President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill sign into law.

The measure will permit Cuban Americans to visit their families in Cuba once a year, instead of once every three years as is currently allowed by law. It will also relax rules on exporting agriculture products and medicines to the communist island nation.

However, the provisions do not lift the U.S. trade embargo imposed against Cuba in the early 1960s.

Democratic Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Bill Nelson of Florida, whose states include large Cuban American populations, initially opposed the bill.

The Senators dropped their opposition after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote to them explaining that these provisions would not amount to a major reversal of the decades-old U.S. policy of isolating Cuba.

During his campaign, Obama promised to ease restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling to the island and sending money to relatives there. In addition, President Obama has said he would be willing to speak with Cuba’s leaders but that he would maintain the long-standing embargo as a way to push for democratic change. Cuban President Raul Castro has said he is open to talks with Obama.

Reuters


Voice of America