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US Treasury eases curbs on travel, fund transfers

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-03

The US Treasury eased restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba - aimed at helping separated families - in line with an April 13 announcement by President Barack Obama. The US economic embargo on Havana, however, remains in effect.

AFP - The US Treasury Thursday eased restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba, a move aimed at promoting "greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba."
   
The move follows an April 13 announcement by President Barack Obama that Washington would lift curbs on travel and money transfers by Cuban-Americans to the island.
   
The 47-year-old US economic embargo on Cuba however remains.
   
The announcement, which changes Treasury rules, focuses on visits by Cubans living in the United States to the island, remittances by Cuban-Americans to their relatives, and telecommunications.
   
The goal is to "promote greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba" and also to "increase the flow of remittances and information to the Cuban people," the Treasury said.
   
"Travelers may visit 'close relatives' (including, for example, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins) who are nationals of Cuba," the statement said, adding that there was no limit on the duration or frequency of the visits.
   
The move will also open a wide array of telecommunications links to the island, after decades of antipathy between Washington and Havana.
   
It allows US telecommunications network providers to link to Cuba with fiber-optic cables and satellite technology, permits US wireless telephone providers to enter roaming service agreements with Cuban firms, and allows US satellite broadcasts to the island.
   
An estimated 1.5 million US residents have relatives in Cuba and the question of how to deal with the Castro government has long been an emotional one for the exile community.
   
When it first announced the planned changes in April, the White House said the move was intended to encourage expanding democratic and political rights in Cuba, called on Havana to respond in kind to help ease decades of fierce antipathy between the bitter foes.
   
Among other things, the White House called on Cuba to reduce charges it levies on money transfers to family members.

Date created : 2009-09-03

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