US authorities have revealed measures to soften the stiff sanctions that US President Donald Trump placed on Cuba.
Restrictions on family remittances and travel to the island will be loosened under new measures authorized by the Biden administration.
The processing of Cuban visas in the United States will likewise be accelerated.
The action, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, will allow Cuban citizens to live free of “government persecution.”
The lifting of sanctions will result in the removal of a limit on family remittances, which are cash transferred by migrants in the United States to family members in Cuba. Migrants could not send more than $1,000 (£811) every three months previously.
The new policies would also allow for donations to non-family members.
However, US authorities stressed that they will utilize civilian “electronic payment processors” to guarantee that such payments do not reach “those who conduct human rights violations.”
They also stated that no individuals will be removed off the Cuba Restricted List, a State Department database of enterprises tied to Havana’s communist regime with whom US nationals are prohibited from doing business.
More charter and commercial flights will be accessible to Havana, according to a Biden administration official, and US consular services on the island would be enhanced, as well as family reunion programs.
Following a period of calm under previous President Barack Obama, Mr. Trump issued a series of penalties on the Cuban regime in 2017.
His government shortened visa processing times, limited remittances, and made it more difficult for US residents to visit Cuba for reasons other than family trips.
Mr Trump justified his decision to reverse Obama-era deals by citing human rights concerns, and he chastised his predecessor for striking a deal with the country’s “brutal” leadership.
The move was greeted positively by Cuba’s foreign minister, who described the loosening of restrictions as “a little step in the right way.”
However, Bruno Rodriguez stated that the strategy “does not affect the embargo” that has been in place since 1962, and that “neither the aims nor the key tools of the United States’ failed policy towards Cuba are changing.”
Meanwhile, a senior Democratic Party official has criticised the action.
Senator Bob Menendez, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized the relaxation of limitations, stating the Cuban dictatorship has maintained “its relentless persecution of countless Cubans from all areas of life.”
Mr Menendez said in a statement released Monday night that loosening travel restrictions “risks sending the wrong message to the wrong people, at the wrong time, and for all the wrong reasons.”
“Those who continue to assume that increased tourism would lead to democracy in Cuba are just delusional. The world has been visiting Cuba for decades, and nothing has changed “he continued.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, also criticized the proposal, calling it “the first step back to the disastrous Obama policies on Cuba.”
Thousands of Cubans who are yearning to see their family in Florida and elsewhere in the United States will be relieved by the news.
Many people are fleeing the island in large numbers, with many heading to Nicaragua and then up via Central America to the US border with Mexico.
Following President Obama’s relaxing of the same regulations, the Trump Administration imposed a slew of fresh economic penalties on the communist-run island after 2016.
The economy in Cuba has been in bad difficulties in recent years, thanks to a combination of the coronavirus outbreak and government mismanagement.
These moves are the White House’s first step toward normalizing relations with Cuba in some way.