Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Some things to expect from new Cuba-US policy

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:07 PM

* As part of resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba, the US will soon reopen an embassy in the capital of Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between the governments.

* The US is also easing travel bans to Cuba, including for family visits, official US government business and educational activities. Tourist travel remains banned.

* Licensed American travelers to Cuba will now be able to return to the US with $400 in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100 combined. This means the long-standing ban on importing Cuban cigars is over, although there are still limits.

* The US is also increasing the amount of money Americans can send to Cubans from $500 to $2,000 per quarter, or every three months. Early in his presidency, Obama allowed unlimited family visits by Cuban-Americans and removed a $1,200 annual cap on remittances. Secretary of State John Kerry is also launching a review of Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terror.

Obama does not have the authority to fully lift the long-standing US economic embargo on Cuba, given that Congress enacted that policy. However, officials said he would welcome lawmakers taking that step.

There remains a divide on Capitol Hill over US policy toward Cuba.

While some lawmakers say the embargo is outdated, others say it's necessary as long as Cuba refuses to reform its political system and improve its human rights record.

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