The government of Joe Biden will lift a series of restrictions on Cuba imposed during the Trump era, facilitating immigration procedures, money transfers and flights to the island. Cuba described as “a limited step in the right direction” this relaxation, but stressed that “it does not modify” the blockade in force for six decades.
Washington’s announcement stems from the policy review towards Havana promised by the Democrat when he arrived at the White House in January 2021. “With these measures, we intend to support the aspirations of freedom and greater economic opportunities of Cubans so that they can lead a successful life at home”, has State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
A senior US official considered a “coincidence” that this is announced tagainst a threat to boycott the next Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles by Mexico, after Cuba denounced having been excluded from the preparations.
“The invitations have not been sent. So there has been no decision on this. And these political measures (with regard to Cuba) have been in the works for a long time, and they are considered completely separate from the conversation about who is top,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The Biden administration has said that will reset the CFRP program, suspended since 2017 and which allows US citizens and residents to meet in the United States with their Cuban parents through regular migration routes.
He also indicated that it will increase the processing capacity of visa applications in Havana, while continuing to carry out most of these immigration procedures in Guyana.
The United States Embassy in Cuba reduced its staff to a minimum in September 2017, when Republican Donald Trump denounced “sound attacks” that had affected the health of his diplomats since 2016.
Discounts to “independent contractors”
The Biden Administration It also plans to remove the cap on family remittances of $1,000 per quarter for the sender-receiver pair, and allowing non-family remittances to support “independent Cuban entrepreneurs”.
However, the senior US official assured that “remittances through Fincimex” will remain prohibited, owned by GAESA, a commercial conglomerate controlled by the Cuban armed forces.
Trump limited formal money transfers to Cuba in 2019support of many families and key to the Cuban economy, and in 2020 sanctioned Fincimex to prevent the Cuban government from benefiting as a middleman.
Additionally, the Biden administration has said it will increase flights between the United States and the island, and will allow connections to cities other than Havana. Some currently prohibited group travel will be allowed, but not individual travel.
“The (Biden) administration’s policy toward Cuba continues to focus first and foremost on supporting the Cuban people, including their human rights and their political and economic well-being,” Price said.
“We continue to call on the Cuban government to immediately release political prisoners, respect the fundamental freedoms of the Cuban people, and allow the Cuban people to determine their own future,” he added.
Cuba qualified as “a limited step in the right direction” this relaxation, but stressed that “it does not modify” the blockade in force for six decades. “The decision does not change the blockade, the fraudulent listing of countries that sponsor terrorism, nor the majority of coercive measures of Trump’s maximum pressure that continues to affect the Cuban people,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez tweeted.
The “content of the announcement confirms that neither the objectives nor the main instruments of the failed US policy against Cuba have changed,” he added.
Trump tightened the economic embargo that the United States has applied to Cuba since 1962 in order to force a change of regime, reversing the openness advocated by its predecessor, the Democrat Barack Obama (2009-2017). Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, has surprised many by sticking with Trump’s measures so far.