World

Obama to Further Ease Cuba Travel, Business Restrictions

A classic American car passes in front of some signs that reads in Spanish "Long Live Free Cuba" in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Six months ago Wednesday, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro stunned the world by announcing an end to their nations’ half-century of official hostility. In Cuba, aging leaders fear swift, uncontrolled change that would cost them power and spawn disorder in a country that dreads the violence and inequality scarring its neighbors. That fear is heightened by the United States’ long history of trying to topple Castro and his brother Fidel. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
A classic American car passes in front of some signs that reads in Spanish “Long Live Free Cuba” in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

(Politico) – The White House announced Friday that it is relaxing additional restrictions on Cuba regarding travel, commerce and investment, stemming from President Barack Obama’s call to ease Cuban sanctions last December.

The regulatory changes include making it easier to travel to the Caribbean country, expanding general licenses for telecommunications and Internet-based services, and allowing certain people and businesses to set up shop in the country and open bank accounts.

The Monday start date for the new rules coincides with Pope Francis’s visit to the island, just a day before he arrives in the United States. The White House has credited the pontiff with driving the initial thawing of relations in December, and Francis is seen as a key ally in their effort to persuade Congress to further lift sanctions.

“Today’s announcement underscores the Administration’s commitment to promote constructive change for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement. “A stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike. By further easing these sanctions, the United States is helping to support the Cuban people in their effort to achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.”

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