President Barack Obama made history on Sunday, becoming the first president since Calvin Coolidge to visit communist Cuba
“It’s been nearly 90 years since a U.S. president stepped foot in Cuba,” Obama said after arriving with his family. “It is wonderful to be here.”
Major changes have already happened, and more are rolling out. Obama’s primary goals are:
Following a wave of nationalizations by the Cuban government in 1961, the United States cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba. President Obama reopened discussions with Cuba recently, working with them to re-establish embassies in Washington and Havana. The two nations have agreed to cooperate on migration, counternarcotics, environmental protection and human trafficking, among other issues.
President Obama is adjusting regulations, improving travel and remittance policies to further “people-to-people contact, support civil society in Cuba, and enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people.”
The United States is restoring more than 100 direct commercial roundtrip flights a day to Cuba. The goal is to help the Cuban economy grow and open Cuba to foreign ideas and culture.
Easing a longtime trade embargo, expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services are now being allowed from the United States to Cuba. It’s expected this change will make it easier for Cuban citizens get lower-priced goods, which will improve living standards and limit dependence on the Cuban government.
Americans are now allowed to import more goods from Cuba, though this will not include any of the hundreds of vintage cars that survive on the island. Licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 of goods from Cuba – but no more than $100 of Cuba’s world-famous cigars or rum.
With internet penetration of just 5 percent, Cuba is one of the least connected countries in the world. Telecom companies are now allowed to build infrastructure in Cuba for commercial phone and internet services, expanding coverage and lowering the cost for the island’s citizens.