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US eases Cuba cash, travel restrictions

The Biden administration will expand flights to Cuba and lift Trump-era restrictions on remittances that immigrants can send to people on the island.

The State Department says it will remove the $US1000-a-quarter limit on family remittances and will allow non-family remittance, which will support independent Cuban entrepreneurs.

The US will also allow scheduled and charter flights to locations beyond Havana.

The administration will also move to reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program and increase consular services and visa processing.

“With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home,” the State Department said on Monday.

“We continue to call on the Cuban government to immediately release political prisoners, to respect the Cuban people’s fundamental freedoms and to allow the Cuban people to determine their own futures.”

The policy changes come after a review that began soon after a series of widespread protests on the island last July.

Former president Donald Trump had increased sanctions against Cuba, including the cancellation of permits to send remittances and the punishment of oil tankers bound for the island.

These measures and the pandemic contributed to an economic crisis in Cuba, where people suffer from shortages of basic products, power outages and rationing.

In recent weeks, both the US and the Cuban governments have started some conversations amid a surge of Cubans trying to emigrate illegally to the US.

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