Cuba restrictions to be loosened in 2007, says US congressman
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

by Bill Faries

NEW YORK, USA (Bloomberg): The US Congress will pass legislation next year to ease restrictions on family travel and financial transfers to Cuba, Representative William Delahunt, co-chair of a congressional group seeking to loosen the US embargo, has said.

Rules limiting US residents with Cuban relatives to one visit every three years are "cruel" and will be overturned next year, Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Tuesday at the New York-based Council of the Americas, a policy research organisation.

Delahunt, a member of the House International Relations Committee, said Congress will also loosen restrictions on remittances to the island. Remittances are generally limited to $300 per Cuban household in a three-month period, according to rules listed on the US State Department's Web site. The money must be sent through State Department-certified institutions.

"I don't think the embargo will change in 2007, but the Bush administration may pre-empt Congress and approve these other changes before we can," Delahunt said.

Delahunt is leading a group of 10 Republican and Democratic congressmen to Cuba on December 15 to assess the situation after President Fidel Castro handed interim power to his brother Raul in July. The group has requested a meeting with Raul Castro.

On December 2 Raul Castro proposed talks with the US to help ease tensions and end the trade embargo first imposed in 1961.

That offer was rejected by the US State Department on December 4