A statement from a White House spokesperson yesterday indicated the President is considering additional steps to liberalize travel to Cuba, beyond those recently issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which authorize family travel to Cuba once a year and redefine “family” to include relatives beyond immediate family members.
“The Administration has taken an important initial step to respond to the humanitarian needs of Cuban-American families,” said Geoff Thale, Program Director for WOLA. “Now we hope the White House will use its authority to loosen restrictions for other categories of travel as well.”
During his presidential campaign, President Obama pledged to, “immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island.” The recent OFAC directive repeals the widely unpopular 2004 Bush administration restrictions on family travel to Cuba, but does not eliminate all restrictions on family travel and remittances.
The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill approved by the Congress this week also eased restrictions on travel to Cuba by denying funds to enforce the 2004 family travel regulations and creating a general license for individuals traveling to Cuba to sell medical and agricultural goods.
“These actions are the work of a president and Congress responding to the will of the American people when it comes to U.S.-Cuba policy,” said Thale. “Momentum is building for Congress to act decisively this year and end the ban on travel to Cuba for all Americans.”
Geoff Thale, Program Director
Photo by Charles Pence via Flickr Creative Commons.