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The United States of America, under the Biden administration, is set to make some changes in its foreign policy towards Cuba. Several restrictions that were imposed during former president Donald Trump's administration on travel to Cuba are going to be lifted. Also, the US visa process for Cubans will be eased, and charter and commercial US-based flights in cities other than Havana will be allowed once again. All this means that Cuba will see an increase in travel, and visa processing - including at the Havana consulate, but with most visas still handled at the US embassy in Guyana.
The statement from the Biden administration also mentions facilitation of educational connections between the two countries, as well as support for professional research including "support for expanded internet access and remittance process companies."
However, US officials have emphasised that they will retain the Cuba Restricted List, which bars any business formation with Cuban government and military-aligned companies. The government will also put emphasis on using “electronic payment processes” to ensure that payments and funds are directly remitted to Cuban people. A US official announced, "We are going to ensure that remittances flow more freely to the Cuban people, while not enriching those who perpetrate human rights abuses."
The news has been met with guarded optimism. A Cuban official tweeted that the US announcement was "a limited step in the right direction".
The relations between US and Cuba have been a matter of global political concern. Since the 1960s, from the Cold War era, both countries have been on mutually disagreeable and coercive terms, from sanctioning economic and trade barriers, battling ideological wars to restricting oil trade with other countries like Venezuela. Although diplomatic relations became better during the Obama-led government, Trump’s policies were an assault on political and economic fronts, causing distress to both citizens and business leaders.
It is hoped that the current, slightly better, diplomatic position, would bring some relief for migrants, Cubans, and Cuban-Americans whose lives have been deeply affected by these policies.
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