Obama's call to ease travel restrictions to Cuba draws criticism

  on January 16 2011 6:13 AM

As President Barack Obama vowed to loosen the travel restrictions on US citizens for traveling to Cuba, his decision has drawn criticism from Cuban-American senators.

Obama administration on Friday spoke of easing travel restrictions to Cuba that would allow students and church groups to travel to the communist country that has been under a U.S. economic embargo for almost 48 years. However, according to political critics, the relaxation in travel restriction will bring economic benefits to Cuba opposing US policy towards Cuba.

Loosening these regulations will not help foster a pro-democracy environment in Cuba. These changes will not aid in ushering in respect for human rights. And they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from the tyranny that engulfs them, Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was quoted as saying in media.

Supporters of the plan say the ease in travel rules to Cuba that was tightened during Bush regime would be like a bridge between the American and Cuban civil societies.

The move would provide Cuba with the additional resources it needs to sustain its failing economy, while ordinary Cubans continue to struggle under the weight of more than 50 years of economic and political oppression, Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey said.

A White House statement issued on Friday said that the plan would also allow any American to provide about $500 every three months to Cuban citizens who are not part of the Castro administration and are not members of the Communist Party. Plus Americans can also send money to Cuban churches and small businesses.

The new regulations further allows travel licenses for non-academic clinics and workshops for Cubans, reports said, adding that the realaxation would also mean more chartered flight services to Cuba.

The new rule restricts ordinary US citizens or tourists to holiday in Cuba.

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