Biden facilitates money transfers to Cuba and overturns migrant Trump, travel rules

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The Biden administration said Monday it would relax rules for sending money to Cuba and reverse former President Donald Trump’s policies that made it harder to travel to or migrate from the island.

The list of changes has outraged prominent Cuban-American politicians who hoped Cuba’s authoritarian communist rulers were on the ropes after large anti-government protests last year, which were harshly suppressed.

Financial reforms include lifting a disbursement cap of $1,000 per quarter and allowing direct investments in the United States. for the first time since 1960.

The United States will also relaunch a family reunification program for Cubans to settle in the United States, which the Trump administration suspended in 2017, and resume the American group’s “educational” trips to the island which has was banned in 2019.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned plans to resume visits by educational groups, saying in A declaration that the plan was “akin to tourism” and would benefit the Cuban government.

“I am appalled to learn that the Biden administration will begin allowing group travel to Cuba through tourism-like tours. To be clear, those who still believe that increased travel will spawn democracy in Cuba are simply in a state of denial,” Menendez said.

Sen. Bob Menendez is in shock over Biden’s latest clearance.
AP/Alex Brandon
Senator Marco Rubio
Senator Marco Rubio shared his opinion on the move, taking it as a step back.
AP/John Raoux)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted“The #Cuba regime has threatened [President] Biden with mass migration and have sympathizers within the administration and the result is today that we see the first steps towards Obama’s failed policies on Cuba.

Nicaragua’s leftist government in November allowed Cuban citizens to travel visa-free, and many Cubans are using the Central American nation as a jumping off point to reach the US-Mexico border, where COVID-19 deportation policies -19 are expected to end next week.

Cuba’s new parole program for family reunification allows 20,000 US visas per year.

Biden administration officials defended the policies during a call hosted by the White House Monday night.

An administration official said, “The humanitarian situation in Cuba right now is very worrying. And while the President asked us to find ways to meaningfully support the Cuban people, he felt that these measures take steps to do so at a particularly concerning time.

demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz
The changes have upset Cuban-American politicians who hoped Cuba’s authoritarian communist rulers were at their wit’s end after large anti-government protests last year.
AFP via Getty Images/ Yamil Lage

Another official noted US condemnation of Cuban authorities’ crackdown on protests last year.

“The repression by the Cuban regime after the July 11 protests was there for me to think the world could see and the sentences that were meted out to people who were singing in the streets and asking for food and having more of a say in say about the future of their country really shows the situation, the lack of respect for human rights on the island,” the second official said.

He added: “But these are measures that we thought were designed to specifically affect the Cuban people and that were in our unilateral interest.”

US citizens have been allowed to visit Cuba since President Barack Obama’s administration relaxed decades-old rules in 2015 – although many flouted the earlier US ban and entered through third countries.

Cars
Cuba’s parole program for family reunification allows 20,000 US visas per year.
Corbis via Getty Images/Frederic Soltan

Although Trump canceled educational group tours, US citizens were still allowed to go if they could document their “support for the Cuban people” with little application and easy-to-follow guidelines like staying in an Airbnb rental rather than a hotel and dining in private restaurants.

Specific new U.S. policies regarding investment in Cuba were not detailed in government releases.

the The Miami Herald reported On Monday last week, the US Treasury Department issued an unprecedented decision granting a license to a company controlled by John Kavulich, chairman of the US-Cuban Business and Economic Council, to invest less than $25,000 in a Cuban company.

The Herald said the Treasury Department’s decision “appears to be the first in more than six decades” and “could open the door to U.S. investment.”

Cuban government salaries are extremely low by international standards – doctors only earn $67 per month. Since 2010Cubans were allowed to engage in certain private businesses, including owning restaurants.

The State Department has touted Biden’s reforms as allowing greater freedom from the communist government, despite the pushback.

“We will encourage the growth of Cuba’s private sector by supporting greater access to US Internet services, applications, and e-commerce platforms. We will support new avenues for electronic payments and for U.S. business activities with independent Cuban entrepreneurs, including through increased access to microfinance and training,” the State Department said.

“We will also support Cuban families and entrepreneurs by enabling an increase in the flow of remittances to the Cuban people in a way that does not enrich the perpetrators of human rights violations. We will lift the cap on family remittances by $1,000 per quarter and support remittances to Cuban entrepreneurs, both with the goal of empowering families to support each other and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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