Key Cuba Embargo Provision Lifted by Obama

President Barack Obama joins others in looking out the window of Air Force One on final approach into Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 20, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama joins others in looking out the window of Air Force One on final approach into Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 20, 2016.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

HAVANA TIMES — In what could be his last effort to warm relations with Cuba, President Obama today announced his approval of new regulations to facilitate business and trade.

One of the most significant actions was to rescind the ban on receiving cargo ships in US ports for six months after having docked in Cuba. This provision could make much more viable the deep water port that the Castro government built with Brazilian funding at Mariel west of Havana.

Likewise, restrictions on the amount of rum and cigars, two important Cuban exports, will be lifted as of Monday, October 17th.  The same goes for other products.  Duties as normally applied to imports from other countries will still have to be paid but the quantity allowed for personal use will lose its ceiling.

During the last period imports from Cuba by travelers was limited to a value of $400 including $100 of rum and/or cigars.

The decision comes less than a month before the US elections with the two candidates differing on the measures taken by Obama.  Hillary Clinton is in favor of the administration policy and Donald Trump is now opposed until Cuba meets new demands.

Obama and Raul Castro at their press conference in Havana on March 21, 2016.
Obama and Raul Castro at their press conference in Havana on March 21, 2016.  Photo: telesurtv.net

Another area of interest is that now US institutions and companies and Cuba will be able to carry out joint medical research.

“The new rules also expand the opportunities for Cubans to receive grants and scholarships to study in the United States, streamline some previous trade authorizations and allow U.S. nationals to provide services to Cuba or Cuban nationals related to developing, repairing, maintaining and enhancing Cuban infrastructure in order to directly benefit the Cuban people,” noted the Miami Herald.

“These amendments will create more opportunities for Cuban citizens to access American goods and services, further strengthening the ties between our two countries,” said US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “More commercial activity between the US and Cuba benefits our people and our economies.”

Read the full statement from President Obama:

Statement by the President on the Presidential Policy Directive on Cuba

The US embassy in Havana. Photo: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate.cu
The US embassy in Havana. Photo: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate.cu

Today, I approved a Presidential Policy Directive that takes another major step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. This Directive takes a comprehensive and whole-of-government approach to promote engagement with the Cuban government and people, and make our opening to Cuba irreversible.

In December 2014, following more than 50 years of failed policy, I announced that the United States would begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. Since then, we’ve worked with the people and the government of Cuba to do exactly that – re-establishing diplomatic relations, opening embassies, expanding travel and commerce, and launching initiatives to help our people cooperate and innovate. This new directive consolidates and builds upon the changes we’ve already made, promotes transparency by being clear about our policy and intentions, and encourages further engagement between our countries and our people.

Consistent with this approach, the Departments of Treasury and Commerce issued further regulatory changes today, building on the progress made over the last two years, to continue to facilitate more interaction between the Cuban and American people, including through travel and commercial opportunities, and more access to information. This follows previous changes that helped facilitate interconnectivity between our peoples, and to promote economic reforms on the island by providing access to the dollar in international transactions. These changes are representative of the progress I saw firsthand when I visited Havana to personally extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. The quick flight over 90 miles of blue water belied the real barriers of the past that were crossed that day, but my interactions with everyday Cubans told a promising story of neighbors working to build broader ties of cooperation across the Americas.

Challenges remain – and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights – but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values. The progress of the last two years, bolstered by today’s action, should remind the world of what’s possible when we look to the future together.

9 thoughts on “Key Cuba Embargo Provision Lifted by Obama

  • Wonderful news! Good things do happen in life. Asi es la vida in a good way. @lynnrose789

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  • I told you big changes were in the works and more are pending. Did Carlyle MacDuff leave Cuba for greener pastures ?

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  • Still have that same dicktator?No free elections yet?

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    • If Cuba is allowed to breathe without being smothered by a Batistiano-directed Cuban policy administered by the world’s superpower, at least prior to Obama, the self-serving, holier-than-thou anti-Cuban zealots who populate this forum will be held accountable for promoting decades of severe punishment against millions of innocent people in a small, mostly helpless nation. Of course, the premise and guise of “hurting” Castro and “sanitizing” Batista and the Mafia has always been a weak ploy, one only maintained all these decades by a policy that projects the United States as an imperialist bully. As a staunch pro-American, pro-democracy advocate, I resent that image just as I cringe at the yearly 191-to-2 vote in the United Nations against the U. S. Cuban policy. My wonder is why the anti-Cuban zealots believe their cruelty against everyday Cubans can be justified even as it reflects so badly on the United States and democracy.

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      • Very well said, Rich. Absolutely spot on! I’m with you in thoroughly understanding that the economic embargo and all other insane U.S. government interventionist policies directed towards Cuba have only hurt, and continue to hurt, the average Cuban common folk living on the island. One can certainly be a pro-democracy advocate while still comprehending this absolute fact. It takes an intelligent person, and a person with enough backbone, to stand up and publicly acknowledge the lunacy of continuing U.S. government policy that cruelly punishes only the poor people of Cuba… and not the Castros. When will the U.S. government finally release the innocent people of Cuba from their bondage?

        Going one further, I’m also a strong advocate for democracy, but I’m appalled that the U.S. government still regularly insists on holding other poor nations hostage through intimidation, manipulation, economic extortion, and/or threats of military intervention… all in the guise of democracy, as though it’s their God given right, and the will of the American people. Cuba poses no threat to the U.S. in any way, shape, or form, and yet the government of the U.S. continues to assume the right to ‘dictate’ to the Cuban government their terms, while holding the Cuban people hostage.

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      • They need to earn their own freedom.Overthrow the castros.Democrats cant give you freedom.

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  • Helping Cubans experience the benefits of free enterprise is a more Christian approach than forcing them to be in a poor communist system. Obama you behave more like Christ than your critics.

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  • Great work Barack! I hope to God Clinton can keep it going WHEN she’s President. Freedom & democracy for Cubans is well overdue. I just hope that Cuba doesn’t take on the fast food companies like KFC, MacDonalds etc & have big advertising bill boards everywhere. That’s one thing I love about Cuba – none of that crap anywhere.

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  • Those willing to trade in Cuba should not be allowed to deduct loses created by non collection of debts. Take your chances trading but remember that Cuba has a terrible history of not paying

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