Obama administration to loosen Cuba travel restrictions

On Friday, President Obama announced that his administration is lifting restrictions on academic travels to Cuba, the White House, the Chronicle of Higher Education and CQ.com report. With this move, the Obama administration will ease the constraints put in place by President Bush in 2004 and return to rules similar to those implemented by President Clinton.

The new rules will permit religious, cultural, and educational travel to Cuba and facilitate study abroad programs and people-to-people exchanges. American tourists, however, will still be unable to vacation legally in Cuba, which has been under a U.S. economic embargo for more than 50 years.

According to the White House, the new measures will be enacted through modifications to already existing regulations and policies concerning Cuban Assets Control and Customs and Border Protection. They are to take effect upon publication in the Federal Register within the next two weeks.

CQ.com reports that House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) criticized President Obama’s move to loosen Cuban travel restrictions, saying that,

“These changes undermine U.S. foreign policy and security objectives and will bring economic benefits to the Cuban regime.”

Ros-Lehtinen’s counterpart in the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Chairman John F. Kerry (D-MA), welcomed the announced measures, which “would prompt economic development and foster improved ties between the United States and Cuba.”