[JURIST] The US Department of the Treasury [official website] on Thursday lifted travel restrictions and restrictions on money transfers [press release] between Cuban-Americans and their families in Cuba. The department also authorized US telecommunications companies work within Cuba to facilitate communication between families split between the two countries. The move was championed by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) [official website], who said [press release] Thursday:
Our previous policy hurt family farmers and restricted their ability to get their products to the Cuban marketplace, and I'm pleased to see that these new regulations recognize the importance of my legislation when it comes to giving our nation's agricultural producers access to the Cuban marketplace.
This change will make it easier for our producers to sell their goods to Cuba, and it makes good economic sense for family farmers in North Dakota and across the country.
The eased restrictions still do not lift the general economic embargo [DOS backgrounder] that has been in place against Cuba since 1962. Travel restrictions to Cuba will remain in effect for Americans of non-Cuban descent, and Americans continue to be barred from sending gifts to high-ranking Cuban politicians.
The Obama administration ordered the restrictions to be lifted [JURIST report] in April. Earlier this year, Congress approved legislation that relaxed rules put in place by the Bush administration in 2004 [JURIST report]. In February, a bill [HR 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]. In October 2008, the UN General Assembly [official website] adopted [press release] by 185-3 a resolution [text, PDF] urging the US to lift [JURIST report] its longstanding embargo on Cuba.