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USA opens ties with Cuba after 50 years!

“Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people,”  - Statement from the White House.

After more than 50 years, the Obama Administration is overhauling its policies toward Cuba.

Here is a round up of important things to know!

  • Since 1960 there has been an economic embargo on Cuba, blocking most travel and nearly all trade to the country.
  • The embargo is NOT fully lifted, but the US will allow export of goods to be used by Cuba’s private sector.
  • Americans will now be allowed to import Cuban cigars and rum, but no more than $100 worth ($400 for other non tobacco/alcohol goods).
  • The State Department is launching talks to restore diplomatic ties and open an embassy in Havana.
  • 12 different travel restrictions will be eased including the allowance of family visits, official visits, journalistic and education work, and humanitarian work. Tourism will remain prohibited.
  • American travelers in Cuba will be able to use credit and debit cards.
  • The US will also review Cuba’s status as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, a designation that’s been in place since 1982 due to its cold war era support of communist rebels in Africa and Latin America.
  • Alan Gross, an American held in Cuba for five years on espionage allegations has been released as a humanitarian gesture. 
  • US releases 3 Cuban spies held for 15 years.
  • Cuba has agreed to release 53 political prisoners.
  • Cuba will no longer be excluded from the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of the heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere. 

What are your thoughts on this historic announcement? Let us know in the comments! 

Cuba Fast Facts:

GDP: $68.23 Billion

Population: 11.26 million

Exports:

  • 25% to raw sugar
  • 15% refined petroleum
  • 14% nickel mattes
  • 14% rolled tobacco
  • 7% hard liquor

Top Export locations:

  • China (30%)
  • Spain (11%)
  • Brazil (5.1%)
  • Belgium-Luxembourg (5%)
  • Italy (3.2%)

 For details: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba