Obama order on exchanges 'very limited'

News from Cuba | Monday, 17 January 2011

from the Morning Star

Cuba welcomed on Sunday Washington's decision to ease restrictions on visas, remittances and travel under its blockade as "positive but very limited in scope."

On Friday US President Barack Obama issued an executive order that will facilitate religious and educational exchanges between the US and Cuba, and would allow any US airport to offer chartered flights to Cuba.

But the order stops short of lifting a ban on tourist travel by US citizens to the developing country.

And while Mr Obama's order will also permit remittances of up to $2,000 (£1,255) per year to non-family members in Cuba "to support private economic activity, among other purposes," the cash cannot go to senior Cuban government officials or leading members of the Communist Party.

"Although the measures are positive they have a very limited reach and do not change US policy against Cuba," the Cuban Foreign Ministry stated.

Havana applauded democratic forces within the US for paving the way for the decision.

But it warned that Mr Obama's administration, like its predecessors, is seeking to overthrow Cuba's socialist government in order to re-establish its control over the country.

"It shows a recognition of the failure of US policy against Cuba and that it is looking for new ways to reach its historic objective of dominating our people," the statement said.

Cuba has denounced online social network Facebook and Google-owned video-sharing network YouTube for closing its account and censoring video links.

YouTube censored the video channel of the Cuban official site Cubadebate and closed it for "alleged violation of copyright."

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