April 23, 2011
MIAMI: The US government has released new rules defining which Americans
may travel freely to Cuba, making it easier for US schools, churches and
cultural groups to visit and increasing the amount of money Americans
can send to the island to support its growing private economy.
The White House says the changes to US-Cuba policy are aimed at
supporting Cuba's civil society and putting distance between Cubans and
their communist government. The policies rescinded more restrictive
travel and remittance guidelines issued by the former president George
Bush in 2003.
Under the official rules, Americans can send up to $US2000 ($1860) a
year to Cuba. There will be a limit on the amount any American can send:
$US500 a quarter to ''support private economic activity''. The Clinton
administration had set that figure at $US300 a quarter.
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Religious and educational groups can travel to Cuba without specific
licences for certain types of events or study. Travel without specific
licences is also allowed for the commercial marketing, sales
negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing in Cuba of items related
to telecommunications ''that have been authorised for commercial export''.
The rules are controversial among Cuban exiles, some of whom say they
will help a dying regime. Proponents of the changes say that allowing
more contact and economic independence would allow Cubans to cut ties to