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Obama administration may lift Cuba travel restrictions

[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official profile] may lift travel and money transfer restrictions with Cuba [State Department backgrounder; JURIST news archive], according to statements by administration officials Saturday. The new rules [AP report] would allow Americans with family members in Cuba to make unlimited trips to the country and would permit them to send unrestricted amounts of money for support, the officials said. Currently, Americans with family in Cuba are limited to one visit per year and can transfer $300 per quarter to each household in Cuba that receives funds. Despite the relaxation of policy with Cuba, Obama is not expected to ask Congress to lift the trade embargo [Treasury Department materials] with the communist nation, which has been in place since 1962 after Fidel Castro took power. While the actions are generally seen as a fulfillment of a campaign promise made by Obama, some oppose the removal of restrictions [WSJ report] because it does not speak out against the Castro regime.

Earlier this year, Congress approved legislation that relaxed rules put in place by the Bush administration in 2004 [JURIST report]. Previously US residents were only allowed to visit relatives on the island once every three years. In February, a bill [H.R. 874 materials] was introduced [JURIST report] into the US House of Representatives [official website] that would end the ban on travel by US residents to Cuba. A similar bill [S. 428 materials] is pending in the US Senate [official website]

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