WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US departments of the Treasury and Commerce announced earlier on Friday that they were taking further steps to reduce economic sanctions following the renewal of US-Cuba diplomatic relations earlier this year.
"The amendments to US sanctions toward Cuba are in line with current US policy to facilitate travel, communication, trade and remittances to Cuba," Florida International University Professor Jorge Duany, Director of FIU’s Cuban Research Institute, told RIA Novosti on Friday.
"Such revisions are primarily designed to ‘empower the Cuban people’ by strengthening the incipient self-employed sector of the Cuban economy," Duany continued.
However, much of the success of the US reform measures depends on whether the Cuban government will allow ordinary Cuban citizens to take advantage of them, Duany cautioned.
The Havana government now had the opportunity and the responsibility to take advantage of these more favorable US measures, Duany recommended.
"It is now up to Cuban authorities to lift some of their own restrictions to the flow of people, information, goods and capital between the United States and Cuba," he explained.
A prominent Florida businessman agreed that the Obama administration’s latest measures could offer new opportunities for the long-suffering people of Cuba, who had been isolated by US-imposed economic sanctions for more than half a century.
"[W]e are still trying to interpret the new regulations but they would appear to be beneficial for the Cuban people and to promote new Cuban enterprises and businessmen," Fernando Capablanca, managing director of the Whitecap Consulting Group in Coral Gables, Florida told RIA Novosti.
Capablanca welcomed the new US regulations as relaxing the stringent embargo, which he said, had not served any valid purpose for a longtime.
The new, more relaxed regulations will come into effect on Monday. They are expected to make travel to Cuba much easier for Americans, and are also intended to improve telecommunications services as well as permit more business people to set up offices on the island and operate bank accounts there, according to a release by the department of the Treasury and Commerce.