Obama to Reverse Cuba Travel Policy Today
President Obama will announce today that the United States will lift its long-standing ban on travel by Cuban-Americans to their homeland, according to The Washington Post.
The Post also reports that Obama will “relax the rules governing what items can be sent to the island,” which presumably means eliminating the cap on remittances that Cuban-Americans can send to their families in Cuba.
Under the limits imposed by President George W. Bush in 2004, Cuban-Americans can visit Cuba just once every three years, and they are limited to sending no more than $300 annually to their families there.
Obama’s move makes good on promises he made during his campaign for the presidency, when he told a Miami audience that he would “grant Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island.” However, in the same speech, he also pledged to maintain the trade embargo on Cuba.
The latter promise ran counter to statements he made during his 2004 Senate campaign, when he said he would fight to lift the embargo that had “utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro” and normalize relations with the island nation.
Still, his actions today mark the most significant liberalization in America’s Cuba policy in decades, largely made possible by his 2008 election victory in Florida. In 2000 and 2004, Bush carried Florida by narrow margins, due to strong support from Cuban-Americans as a result of his hard-line Cuba policy. But last year, Obama won the state with only 35 percent of the Cuban-American vote. No longer beholden to Miami Cuban-Americans for his election, the president now has a freer hand to reform the country’s Cuba policy.
Today we witness the first evidence of that.