WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (AFP) -President Barack Obama has eased restrictions on visas, remittances and travel under the US embargo on Cuba, in a bid to weaken the long grip on power of the communist Havana government.
The move will expand religious and educational travel between the United States and Cuba, allow any airport to offer charter flights to the country and restore cultural initiatives suspended by the previous Bush administration.
“These measures will increase people-to-people contact, support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities,” the White House said in a statement.
“The president believes these actions, combined with the continuation of the embargo, are important steps in reaching the widely shared goal of a Cuba that respects the basic rights of all its citizens.
“These steps build upon the president's April 2009 actions to help reunite divided Cuban families; to facilitate greater telecommunications with the Cuban people; and to increase humanitarian flows to Cuba.”