US finally lifts Cuba flight ban introduced by Trump

Trump administration had scaled back flights and imposed further restrictions on Cuba

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 02 June 2022 10:48 BST
Cuba and the US

The Joe Biden administration on Wednesday lifted a series of restrictions imposed by the former president, including prohibitions on flights, to Cuba.

The restrictions had prevented US airlines and chartered flights from going to Cuban cities except for Havana. The US transportation department issued the order after secretary of state Antony Blinken sent a letter asking it to revoke the restrictions.

Mr Blinken said the action was "in support of the Cuban people, and in the foreign policy interests of the United States". "Scheduled and charter air services between the United States and Cuban airports may resume effective immediately," he added.

The Biden administration had announced last month that it would expand flights to Cuba in an effort to revise policies towards the communist nation. The White House said the steps would loosen restrictions on US travelers to the island and lift restrictions on money that immigrants can send to people in Cuba.

Former president Donald Trump, during his tenure, had issued a series of aviation restrictions to build economic pressure on the Cuban government. During the Trump administration, the transportation department imposed a cap on charter flights to Cuba at 3,600 per year and later suspended private charter flights.

The government said it would reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Programme, which reportedly has a backlog of over 20,000 applications and increase consular services. “With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home,” state department spokesperson Ned Price said last month.

The state department in May said the US would lift the cap on family remittances, previously set to $1,000 per quarter. However, it added that the US would not remove entities from the Cuba Restricted List - an index of Cuban government and military-backed companies with who the American government and citizens are barred from doing business.

“We are going to ensure that remittances flow more freely to the Cuban people, while not enriching those who perpetrate human rights abuses,” an administration official was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez had then called the Biden administration’s decision a “limited step in the right direction.”

“The decision does not change the embargo, the fraudulent inclusion (of Cuba) on a list of state sponsors of terrorism nor most of the coercive maximum pressure measures by Trump that still affect the Cuban people,” he said.

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