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Cuba / It raises travel ban for Americans ?!

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Hola Mi, Its Jamaica Urban here to give you a report on our great, next door neighbours Cuba, Be interested! Big things are happening in Cuba, and with time, things are going to get better and better for this country, so keep your eyes wide open !!

The Obama administration is working to reach a deal with Cuba by year’s end that would allow travelers to fly on scheduled commercial flights between the countries, U.S. officials say, chipping away at a travel ban without requiring Congress to lift it.

The agreement would allow airlines to establish regular service between the U.S. and Cuba as early as December, officials said, marking the most significant expansion of economic and tourism ties between the U.S. and Cuba since the 1950s, when Americans regularly traveled back and forth to Havana.

The Obama administration is also exploring further steps to loosen travel restrictions for Americans to the island nation despite the decades-old congressional ban, officials said.

The twin moves, which follow the formal reopening last week of the American embassy in Havana, underscore the White House’s intent to solidify one of President Barack Obama’s major foreign policy achievements by making the Cuba shift nearly impossible for a future president to reverse.

Only Congress can lift the long-standing U.S. travel and trade embargoes imposed against Cuba in the 1960s following the rise of Fidel Castro to power. But Mr. Obama has executive authority to grant exceptions to them. He announced several last December—such as allowing Americans to use credit and debit cards in Cuba and expanding commercial sales and exports between the two countries—and is considering others.

One way is to allow individual travelers to visit Cuba independently of a tour group, so long as they say their trip is intended to pursue cultural exchange, a practice known as “people-to-people” travel.

U.S. laws authorize citizens to travel to Cuba only for specific purposes, including business trips, family visits or the people-to-people exchanges. By loosening restrictions on those authorized categories of travel, the administration in effect can chip away at the travel ban.

“The one logical thing they could do is let individuals create their own people-to-people program and not force them to go on expensive package tours,” said William LeoGrande, a professor at American University who has written extensively about U.S.-Cuban negotiations. “If they do that and it’s possible to book an ordinary flight instead of go on a charter, lots more people would go to Cuba.”

Deepening both U.S.-Cuba economic relations and the two countries’ cultural and tourism ties is part of how Mr. Obama hopes to ensure that the move toward normalization doesn’t unravel under his successor.

The White House has taken the same approach to the nuclear deal with Iran, which Congress is set to vote on next month and is likely to be implemented by Mr. Obama exercising his veto authority.

The White House hopes Mr. Obama’s Iran and Cuba policies follow the same political trajectory as his health-care law.

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