Cuba Brands U.S. Rollback of Curbs Light On Detail, Heavy on Hostility

Emigres wave American and Cuban flags outside Versailles restaurant, in reaction to reports of protests in Cuba against its deteriorating economy, in Miami, Florida, U.S. July 18, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo
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HAVANA, May 18 (Reuters) – Cuba´s vice foreign minister denounced the Biden administration’s partial rollback of Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to the island, calling U.S. policy toward the island one of continued “hostility” and “economic blockade.”

The U.S. measures, announced on Monday, mark the most significant changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021. His administration said it would open the door to increased travel to the island, do away with a Trump-era cap on remittances and promises to further boost visa processing. read more

The measures, however, stop well short of the historic rapprochement under former President Barack Obama. read more

Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, in a television program on state-run media on Tuesday, called the announcement “an information sheet sparse in detail, although with a heavy load of hostile language toward Cuba and a dose of demagoguery.”

He warned against too much optimism until the fine print of the regulations is released, a process he said could take “days or months.”

The United States said on Monday that the rule changes would be implemented “in short order.”

Many Cubans on the island found reason to celebrate this week, as hopes of reuniting with family in the United States and the potential for even a minor uptick in its near-collapsed economy provided some room for optimism. read more

Cuba, a Caribbean island 90 miles from the United States, is suffering its worse economic crisis in decades, ravaged by Trump-era sanctions, two years of coronavirus and an ailing tourism industry that is struggling to recover.

Tens of thousands of Cubans have left the island in recent months for the United States, an exodus on par with the 1980 Mariel boatlift. read more

Cossio expressed skepticism that the announced changes would do much to improve the country´s lot.

“The policy of the United States towards Cuba continues to be a policy of hostility and economic blockade…to isolate Cuba, and to {discredit} it,” he said.

The United States said the policy shift announced Monday “will continue to focus on empowering the Cuban people to help them create a future free from repression and economic suffering.”

Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Nick Macfie
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