The United States, in its continuing effort to support the desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future, has taken steps to forge deeper ties with the people of Cuba and expand their economic independence by altering regulations that govern travel and private assistance by Americans to Cuba.
President Barack Obama has ordered that U.S. regulations be updated to expand the opportunities for travel to Cuba by American religious, cultural and educational groups. These measures build on the steps taken in 2009, when the President eased restrictions on travel and money transfers by U.S. residents to family members on the island. Additional changes in U.S. policy have been made as well to expand telecommunications and other services between our peoples.
These actions are important steps in reaching the widely shared goal of a Cuba that respects the basic rights of all its citizens. They will increase people-to-people contact, support civil society and enhance the free flow of information to, from and among the Cuban people. By allowing concerned citizens in the United States to send up to $500 every three months to Cuban citizens who are not senior officials in the government or Communist Party, it will make them less reliant on the state and, in at least a small way, foster private economic development.
In making these changes, the U.S. again calls on the Cuban government to enact reforms to allow democracy and freedom to flourish on the island.