US Measures on the Right Path, but Blockade of Cuba is still There

Havana, Cuba, Jan 16 (acn) – The coming into effect of new US regulations towards Cuba was addressed Friday by Cuba´s Granma newspaper noting that although the steps go on the right direction, the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba is still in force.

According to Granma, organ of the Cuban Communist Party, a preliminary reading of the regulations issued by the U.S. departments of the Treasury and Commerce indicate that the measures modify the implementation of some aspects of the US blockade.

Although the Cuba-travel ban is not completely lifted, some restrictions are eliminated for US citizens and permanent residents who qualify for the current 12 categories already authorized, the information explains. Also eliminated are the limits for expenditures by US travelers to Cuba and they can also use credit and debit cards, while travel agencies and airline companies can organize visits and hire insurance services.

But the regulations did not allow US citizens to travel to Cuba by sea, while U.S. exports to Cuba keep under restriction, particularly modern technology products, except for limited sales of construction materials, agricultural equipment for the private sector, presumably through Cuban companies.

Granma explains that the export of Cuban goods to the United States continues to be prohibited, except for limited amounts imported by US citizens, who will be allowed to an import limit of 400 dollars, 100 dollars of which in cigars and rums.

However, telecommunications were widely addressed in the regulations in tune with the US policy to increase its influence on Cuban society, notes the article on Granma newspaper. The U.S. information technologies and telecommunications sector is the only one allowed to do investment in infrastructure and to sell Cuban state-owned companies services, software programs and equipment, but not high-tech.

Meanwhile, US financial institutions are now allowed to open accounts in Cuban banks for possible transactions between the two countries, but this is not reciprocal, since Cuban banks cannot do the same in the United States.

The new regulations do not modify current restrictions for maritime transportation, though those boats that bring food, medicines, medical equipment and other materials for emergency situations in Cuba from third countries will no longer wait 180 days to again call US ports, Granma notes.

Other crucial measures of the US blockade were not modified, such as the possibility to use US dollars in Cuban international transactions, the purchase overseas of equipment and technology that contains more than 10 percent US components, the possibility to do business with US subsidiaries based in third countries and the import by the United States of products containing Cuban raw materials.

According to Granma, the new US measures constitute a step in the correct direction, but there is still a long way to go to dismantle other aspects of the US blockade of Cuba through the use of the executive powers of President Barack Obama and for the US Congress to finally abolish this policy once and for all.