US eases Cuban travel, money restraints

In a measured break with a half-century of US policy toward communist Cuba, the Obama administration lifted restrictions Monday on Cuban-Americans who want to travel and send money to their island homeland. In a further gesture of openness, US telecommunications firms were freed to seek business there, too. But the broader US trade embargo remained in place. The White House portrayed its changes, which fulfilled one of President Barack Obama's campaign promises, as a path to promoting personal freedom in one of the few remaining communist nations. They also marked another major step away from the foreign policy priorities of the Bush administration. Still, the moves fell far short of the more drastic policy adjustments that some, including Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, have argued are required to promote US interests in Latin America and to bring about change in Cuba. For most Americans, Cuba remains the only country in the world their government prohibits them from visiting, a barrier to potential travelers as well as to the Cuban tourism industry that would like to see them. Cubans welcomed the changes but said more should be done.