The major new US-Cuba deal
The US and Cuba have announced a broad agreement between the countries that will be a first and historic step toward normalizing relations after more than 50 years of hostility. Here are the basics of what each country has agreed to, as is known so far:
What the US will give Cuba
- Diplomatic opening: The U.S. will take steps toward restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, severed since 1961. The travel ban will still be in place, as will the embargo, but the embargo’s impact will be eased and some forms of travel will be made easier.
- Embassy in Havana: This will include the goal of reopening a US embassy in Havana in the coming months. The embassy has been closed for over half a century.
- Release alleged Cuban spies: The US will release three Cubans who were convicted of espionage and imprisoned in the US: Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina, and Antonio Guerrero. All three prisoners were members of the “Wasp Network,” a group that spied on prominent members of the Cuban-American community. CNN reports that Hernandez, the group’s leader, was also linked to the downing of two two civilian planes operated by Brothers to the Rescue, a U.S.-based dissident group.
- Easing business and travel restrictions: The U.S. will make it easier for Americans to obtain licenses to do business in Cuba, and to travel to the island. CNN reports that the new rules still won’t permit American tourism, but will make it easier to visit for other purposes.
- Easing banking restrictions: Americans will be able to use credit and debit cards while in Cuba.
- Higher remittance limits: Americans will be able to send up to $2000 per year to family members in Cuba. Cuban-American remittances are a major source of income for many Cuban families.
- Small-scale imports of Cuban cigars and alcohol: US travelers will be able to import up to $400 in goods from Cuba, including $100 in alcohol and tobacco products.
- Review of basis for sanctions: Secretary of State John Kerry has been ordered to review Cuba’s status as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” If his review determines that Cuba no longer deserves that status, that will be a first step towards lifting at least some US sanctions.
What Cuba will give the US
- Release Alan Gross: US contractor Alan Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba for the last five years on charges of attempting to undermine the Cuban government. His detention has been a major issue for the US and the Obama administration. He has been released and is on his way back to the United States.
- Release political prisoners: Cuba will release 53 political prisoners from a list provided by the United States. CNN also reports that Cuba is releasing a US intelligence source who has been imprisoned in Cuba for more than 20 years, but it is not clear whether that individual was one of the 53 included on the list.
- Increased internet access: Cuba will allow its citizens increased access to the internet. The US has long sought this as a means of increasing pressure within Cuba for democratic reform.
- Access by the UN: Cuba will allow officials from the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to return to its territory.