WASHINGTON – The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday published new rules governing travel to Cuba which include the relaxation of some of longstanding regulations announced in January by President Barack Obama.
The president said then that after years of restrictions, U.S. students, journalists or members of religious organizations may travel freely to the island without asking U.S. authorities for prior permission.
That was the second occasion on which Obama had pushed for the relaxation of travel rules to Cuba after in April 2009 he announced that Cuban Americans could travel to the island any time they wanted.
According to the full document published Thursday by the Treasury, now U.S. citizens will be able to travel to Cuba without requesting government authorizations when they are going there to visit a “close family member” who is Cuban or works at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
Accredited journalists, professionals who visit the island to participate in events such as conferences or meetings and students and professors who go to participate in educational activities will all be allowed to travel without restrictions.
Another group favored by the new rules are religious organizations recognized by the government, as well as agricultural and telecommunications firms that want to undertake advertising tasks or commercial negotiations on the Communist-ruled island.
The document specifies, however, when some of these groups will still have to request prior travel authorization, for instance when a freelance journalist or a member of a religious organization not recognized by the U.S. wants to visit Cuba. EFE