Monday, April 13, 2009

Before leaving for Summit of the Americas, Obama says U.S. will lift some Cuba travel restrictions

President Obama will announce today that he is lifting travel restrictions that block Cuban Americans from traveling to Cuba and will relax the rules governing what items can be sent to the island, a senior White House official said.

The decision does not lift the trade embargo on communist Cuba but eases the prohibitions that have restricted Cuban Americans from visiting their relatives and has limited what they can send back home. . . .

A White House aide said the president believes that democratic change will come to the Cuban nation more quickly if the United States reaches out to the people of Cuba and their relatives in the United States.

But the move is highly controversial, especially among those who supported former president George W. Bush's hardline policy, which viewed the restrictions as a way of spurring political change. . . .

The announcement, which is expected to come later today, comes as the president prepares to leave Thursday for the Summit of the America's in Trinidad, and a stop in Mexico.

Source: Michael D. Shear, Obama to Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions, Washington Post, April 13, 2009.

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