Reuters.com is reporting that today President Barack Obama announced easing of restrictions on family travel and cash gifts from the United States to Cuba.
This move does not end the U.S.’s trade embargo with Cuba, but it does put a dent in the strict policies established almost half a century ago. It also fulfills one of Obama’s campaign promises to allow Cuban Americans to travel more freely to Cuba and help with sending money to relatives that are still on the island.
According to Reuters, supporters of less stringent travel restrictions to the communist island welcomed the move, which will affect about 1.5 million Americans who have family members in Cuba. They said they hoped it was the beginning of even bigger steps by this administration to end the 47-year-old embargo that some argue is an obsolete policy that hasn’t brought about change in Cuba. During his presidential campaign, Obama spoke of easing some U.S. limits on family travel and remittances, but said he would not end the trade embargo until Cuba showed a move toward democracy and greater human rights.
Right now, Cubans living in the States are allowed to travel to the island only once a year and are limited to send only $1,200 per person in cash to needy family members in Cuba.