Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

US lifts restrictions on air links to Cuba

The US government lifted restrictions Wednesday on air links to Cuba, one of the measures announced in May by President Joe Biden's administration in a gesture of conciliation toward the Communist-run island.

The decision will allow US airlines to serve other airports in Cuba aside from the capital Havana, a Department of Transportation document said.

The re-authorization of certain group trips is also planned, it said.

On May 16, the Biden administration announced the upcoming lifting of a slew of sanctions targeting the island, which a US official described at the time as "practical decisions" to help alleviate the humanitarian situation and to "expand economic opportunities" for Cubans.

In addition to expanded flights, the United States intends to reinstate a program that was suspended for several years and which had facilitated immigration procedures for members of the same family.

Washington had also promised to increase capacity for processing visa applications in Havana.

It will also abolish a quarterly ceiling of $1,000 that was permitted to be sent to Cuba by relatives in the US, and will also authorize the sending of money outside of family members.

That ceiling was imposed by Biden's predecessor Donald Trump, who took a series of measures against Cuba during his presidency.

The May announcements were welcomed by the Cuban government, evoking "a small step in the right direction", although it said they did not change the nature of the embargo in place since 1962.