Biden administration to expand flights and consular services in Cuba, says official

The Biden administration is ramping up flights to Cuba, expanding consular services there and relaunching family reunification programs, an effort to return US involvement in the island nation to how it was during the Obama era.

In a series of announcements Monday night, the US announced plans to end a $1,000 per quarter cap on remittances to Cubans while ensuring such payments don’t end up with “those who commit human rights abuses,” according to a statement. fact sheet provided by the White House.

The new policy removes Trump-era restrictions on family remittances and travel to the island, but will not remove entities from the Cuba Restricted List that blocks certain state actors from receiving US funds. The government plans to work with electronic payment companies to bypass sanctioned Cuban financial institutions.

Former President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015 and even visited the country in 2016† The removal of Cuba from the restricted list was approved by Mr. Biden while he was vice president.

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Passengers walk across the tarmac at Jose Marti International Airport after arriving on an American Airlines charter plane on January 19, 2015 in Havana, Cuba.

But in the final days of the Trump administration, former President Donald Trump Redesignated Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, and imposed new sanctions on the country.

The Cuban government called the new measures “positive, but of very limited scope” on Monday evening.

“These announcements do not in any way alter the blockade or key economic siege measures taken by Trump, such as the listings of Cuban entities subject to additional coercive measures, nor do they lift travel restrictions on U.S. citizens,” he said. the Cuban government.

A senior Biden government official with a National Security Council background told Cuba the measures will be taken, and also said future actions are expected to counter the large-scale protests in Cuba that took place last year.

The official said the policy will support the Cuban community. The first is to promote accountability for human rights violations, for which the government has announced several rounds of sanctions against individuals and entities directly associated with human rights violations. The second policy will prioritize and facilitate the export of private or donated goods to the Cuban people, focusing specifically on the export of agricultural medical products.

sen. Robert Menedez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the oldest Cuban-American member of Congress, made a lengthy statement Monday night denouncing the new Cuba policy and calling it the “wrong message to the wrong people.” time and for the wrong reasons.”

sen. Marco Rubio, who is also Cuban-American and the top Republican on the foreign relations panel and another outspoken critic of the Cuban government, also rejected the decision on Twitter“The regime in #Cuba threatened Biden with mass migration and has sympathizers within the administration and as a result, today we see the first steps back to the failed Obama policy towards Cuba.”

The US will host the ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles early next month, and several Latin American leaders have said they will not attend unless Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are invited. On Monday, government officials told reporters that formal invitations to the meetings have not yet been sent.

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