News / USA

    US Further Clears Path for Travel, Commerce With Cuba

    FILE - A man shows new Cuban pesos outside a bank in Havana, Feb. 2, 2015.
    FILE - A man shows new Cuban pesos outside a bank in Havana, Feb. 2, 2015.
    Mary Alice Salinas

    The United States is clearing the path for more travel and commerce with Cuba as it seeks to further engage the Cuban people and normalize relations with the island nation.

    The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a series of actions it says will promote ties between U.S. and Cuban citizens and urged the communist government to do its part to “remove impediments that have been holding Cubans back.”

    Steps taken by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments include removing financing restrictions for most types of authorized exports, amending regulations to make it easier for some individuals and entities to get export licenses, and further easing regulations on authorized travel.

    The White House said the new actions to ease sanctions continue a policy to empower the Cuban people by creating economic opportunities between Cubans and Americans.

    “By expanding people-to-people ties, business opportunities, and greater access to information, we are promoting the transformation of our relationship in ways that advance U.S. interests and improve the lives of the Cuban people,” the White House said.

    The U.S. urged the Cuban government to take steps to make it easier for Cuban citizens to start businesses, engage in trade and access information online.

    FILE - People surf the Internet at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 25, 2015.
    FILE - People surf the Internet at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 25, 2015.

    During a speech in Havana, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda urged Havana to expand Internet and communications connectivity .

    While the government has taken some “positive steps” in the last year, Sepulveda urged Cuba to upgrade its wireless technology, establish more Wi-Fi hotspots and lower the cost of Internet access, which is $2.00 an hour.  That effectively means that it costs the average Cuban about 10 percent of his or her salary to get online, Sepulveda said.

    Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Tuesday the U.S. will continue to take steps to “help the Cuban people achieve the political and economic freedom that they deserve.”

    Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said the regulatory changes will “help strengthen civil society in Cuba and enhance communications to, from and among the Cuban people.”

    In December 2014, President Barack Obama announced the United States would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and begin the process of normalizing relations more than 50 years after they severed ties.

    The policy change is sharply opposed by many in the Republican-led Congress and by some Republican presidential hopefuls, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has threatened to reverse the change in U.S.-Cuba relations.

    Critics argue Obama gave Havana too many concessions without insisting the communist government bring an end to its oppressive policies and human rights abuses.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora