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Obama expected to ease Cuba restrictions

Obama does not intend to call for lifting the decades-long trade embargo

WASHINGTON — A report says President Barack Obama intends to lift the U.S. ban on family members travelling to Cuba and remittances to the island.

An article on the Wall Street Journal website says the move would fulfill a pledge Obama made during the presidential campaign and could signal a new openness with the communist nation.

A senior administration official travelling with Obama in Europe declined to confirm that anything is final on Obama’s decision.

But the official speaking on condition of anonymity said Obama has been clear to Congress about his intentions, and that it was “time to address family travel and remittances.”

However, the report says Obama does not intend to call for lifting the decades-long trade embargo against Cuba, which would require congressional approval.

Timing of the announcement is unclear, but there is speculation it could come before this month’s Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

Democrats in Congress are also moving to loosen restrictions on family travel to Cuba, but Obama plans to use presidential powers to ease the rules on his own, according to the report.

During the presidential campaign, Obama pledged to allow unlimited family travel and remittances to Cuba.

“It’s time to let Cuban-Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and their brothers,” he said in a speech last May in Miami. “It’s time to let Cuban-American money make their families less dependent on the Castro regime.”

The rules will affect an estimated 1.5 million Americans who have relatives in Cuba, the Journal said.

 
 
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