WASHINGTON, USA (MCT) -- The Obama administration moved on Friday to make it easier for US schools, churches and cultural groups to visit Cuba and to boost the US dollars that can be sent there to support the island's growing private economy.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the changes to US-Cuba policy -- which have been rumoured for months -- are aimed at bolstering Cuba's civil society and putting distance between Cubans and their communist-led goverment.
"The president believes these actions, combined with the continuation of the embargo, are important steps in reaching the widely shared goal of a Cuba that respects the basic rights of all its citizens," Gibbs said.
A White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide background, said the aim of the changes is "to support the independence of the Cuban people, making them less dependent on the Cuban state and on Cuban authorities."
The changes restore -- and increase -- the amount of money that any American can send to any Cuban to $2,000 annually -- more than the level it was during before former President George W. Bush tightened sanctions against Cuba. There will be a quarterly limit on the amount that any American can send: $500 per quarter to "support private economic activity." The Clinton administration had set that figure at $300 a quarter.McClatchy Newspapers