US lifts restrictions on air services to and from Cuba
The US Government of President Joseph Biden Wednesday lifted a series of restrictions on flights to and from Cuba stemming from the Donald Trump era, the Transportation Department announced.
The agency also explained in a statement the measure had been adopted following a request from the State Department.
On January 10, 2020, the US suspended until further notice all public charter flights to and from Cuban airports other than Havana’s José Martí International, at the request of then-Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who also imposed a cap on the number of charter flights to that destination.
Both measures were intended to limit the regime’s ability to obtain economic benefits that it uses to finance repression, it was explained back then.
Last month, the Biden administration announced it would lift some of the restrictions imposed under Trump to facilitate immigration, money transfers, and air travel. The US Government now intends to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and greater economic opportunities so they can lead a successful life at home.
Cuba called it a limited step in the right direction, which does not modify the embargo in place for six decades. Trump had even tightened the economic embargo in force since 1962 to Cuba in order to force a regime change, thus reversing the opening favored by President Barack Obama (2009-2017), when Biden was Vice President.
Cuba’s single-party regime since the revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959, is a politically sensitive issue in the United States, which is home to a large community of immigrants who fled Communism.
Obama’s flexibilization caused unease among Republicans and even some Democrats, especially after the 2021 protests that resulted in one death, dozens of injuries, and more than 1,300 arrests, according to Miami-based Cubalex.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said opening up flights to Cuba was “in support of the Cuban people and in the foreign policy interests of the United States.” He added that “scheduled and charter air services between the United States and Cuban airports may resume effective immediately.”
The Biden administration also said it would move to reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which has a backlog of more than 20,000 applications and increase consular services and visa processing.