U.S. Rep. Castor praises historic changes to modernize U.S. policy toward Cuba

Today, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL) praised historic changes to U.S./Cuba travel and trade policy that are certain to boost Tampa International Airport, expand educational, cultural and religious exchanges, and empower Cuban entrepreneurs.  The U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments announced broad new regulations effective tomorrow that execute President Obama’s recent announcement of modernization of U.S. policy toward Cuba.

“In addition to expanding travel opportunities, these measures will empower self-employed Cubans and the emerging private, small business sector on the island,” said U.S. Rep. Castor, who met yesterday with Roberta Jacobson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.  Jacobson departs for Cuba next week to begin migration and diplomatic negotiations.

“Today’s announcement is a major boost for the Tampa Bay economy, particularly our airport, and the many families and exchange initiatives that have been established,” U.S. Rep. Castor continued. “Removing unnecessary barriers to travel will allow more people to travel through our airport and create more opportunities for Americans to engage directly with the Cuban people.”

Currently, there are 12 categories of permissible travel, but travelers must make individual requests to the U.S. Treasury Department for each category to visit Cuba. The new regulations cut the red tape and authorize travel under a general license. The new regulations also facilitate travel provider services, simplify the process of authorized remittances, raise the limits on and generally authorize certain categories of remittances to Cuba, and streamline processing of authorized financial transactions.

“The previous U.S. sanctions and restrictions on Cuba were some of the most severe in the world and not consistent with threats posed by other countries and changing conditions in Cuba,” U.S. Rep. Castor said.  “Today we take a huge step toward normalizing relations that will help families in Tampa Bay and in Cuba.  I look forward to working with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa International Airport, churches, colleges, and more in the coming days, particularly at the Forum that will delve into these changes in detail that we are planning for March.”

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