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Cuba welcomed a decision by the United States this week to ease a series of longstanding restrictions on travel, family reunification and remittances, a move that US officials said aims to support “Cubans’ aspirations for freedom,” the Washington Times reported.
On Monday, the Biden administration removed a number of restrictions imposed by former President Donald Trump on Cuba.
The changes included the reinstating of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which allows certain US citizens and permanent residents to apply for “parole” for family members who remain in Cuba. US authorities will also permit certain types of travel, including group “people-to-people” and educational travel to Cuba, as well as trips for professional reasons and research.
Individual “people-to-people” travel, however, will not be allowed.
Another major change is the lifting of a $1,000 per-quarter limit on remittances sent by Cuban nationals in the US to their family members in Cuba. The move is aimed at supporting Cuban entrepreneurs.
Cuban officials called the changes “a limited step in the right direction” but added that they don’t “modify the blockade or the main measures of economic siege adopted by Trump,” according to USA Today.
The previous restrictions and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic have strained Cuba’s economy, causing shortages and power outages.
The economic situation prompted thousands of people to demonstrate against the government last year, protests described as the island’s largest in decades.
Even so, the communist government responded by launching a severe crackdown on protesters. According to nongovernmental groups, about 1,400 individuals were arrested and 500 have been sentenced to as much as 20 years in jail for vandalism or sedition.