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Sunday, 06 September 2009 10:05

U.S. allows unlimited visits to relatives in Cuba

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WASHINGTON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Americans with "close relatives" in Cuba can visit the island as long and often as they would like under new rules lifting some travel and telecommunications restrictions, the U.S. Treasury said on Thursday. The rules, effective immediately, fleshed out an announcement by President Barack Obama in April to ease the U.S. trade embargo enforced on Cuba after Fidel Castro's leftist revolution half a century ago. But the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control said Americans could spend only $179 per day on visits to family members in Cuba, including aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins.

 

That is the same amount as the U.S. State Department's per diem rate for official visits, and it will change when the State Department rate changes. The new OFAC rules also allow Cuban Americans to send unlimited amounts of money to family members in Cuba, and permit U.S. banks to set up exchange arrangements with Cuban financial institutions. Until now, Cuban-Americans had been allowed to travel to the island only once a year and were limited to send only $1,200 per person in cash to needy family members in Cuba. U.S. telecommunications companies will now be allowed to set up fiber-optic cable and satellite links with Cuba, start roaming service agreements and permit U.S. residents to pay for telecoms, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba, according to the OFAC rules.

(Reporting by David Lawder, Editing by Anthony Boadle)   

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