Official Statement: Charting a New Course on Cuba – Just Released

Office of the Press Secretary

White House Press Office (delivered 2 minutes ago)

December 17, 2014
Fact Sheet:  Charting a New Course on Cuba

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.  We are
separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the
relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban
descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who
share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba. 

is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to
accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a
democratic, prosperous, and
stable Cuba.  At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has
isolated the United States from regional and international partners,
constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western
Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of
tools available to the United States to promote positive change in
Cuba.  Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it
has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the
Castros and the Communist party.

cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  It
does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try
to push Cuba toward collapse.  We know from hard-learned experience
that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose
policies that will render a country a failed state.  With our actions
today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential
of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their
political, social, and economic activities.  In that spirit, we should
not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek
to help.
we are renewing our leadership in the Americas.  We are choosing to cut
loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary
to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American
people, and for the Cuban people.

Key Components of the Updated Policy Approach:

taking office in 2009, President Obama has taken steps aimed at
supporting the ability of the Cuban people to gain greater control over
their own lives
and determine their country’s future.  Today, the President announced
additional measures to end our outdated approach, and to promote more
effectively change in Cuba that is consistent with U.S. support for the
Cuban people and in line with U.S. national
security interests.  Major elements of the President’s new approach

Establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba-
President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately initiate
discussions with Cuba on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations
with Cuba, which were severed
in January 1961.
the coming months, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana and carry
out high-level exchanges and visits between our two governments as part
of the normalization process. 
As an initial step, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs will lead the U.S. Delegation to the next round of
U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks in January 2015, in Havana.
engagement will be critical when appropriate and will include continued
strong support for improved human rights conditions and democratic
reforms in Cuba and other measures
aimed at fostering improved conditions for the Cuban people.
United States will work with Cuba on matters of mutual concern and that
advance U.S. national interests, such as migration, counternarcotics,
environmental protection, and
trafficking in persons, among other issues. 

Adjusting regulations to more effectively empower the Cuban people-

changes announced today will soon be implemented via amendments to
regulations of the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce.   Our new
policy changes will further enhance
our goal of empowering the Cuban population.

travel and remittance policies are helping Cubans by providing
alternative sources of information and opportunities for self-employment
and private property ownership, and
by strengthening independent civil society. 
measures will further increase people-to-people contact; further
support civil society in Cuba; and further enhance the free flow of
information to, from, and among the
Cuban people.  Persons must comply with all provisions of the revised
regulations; violations of the terms and conditions are enforceable
under U.S. law.

Facilitating an expansion of travel under general licenses for the 12 existing categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law-

licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in the
following existing categories: (1) family visits; (2) official business
of the U.S. government, foreign
governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; (3)
journalistic activity; (4) professional research and professional
meetings; (5) educational activities; (6) religious activities; (7)
public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other
competitions, and exhibitions; (8) support for the Cuban people; (9)
humanitarian projects; (10) activities of private foundations or
research or educational institutes; (11) exportation, importation, or
transmission of information or information materials;
and (12) certain export transactions that may be considered for
authorization under existing regulations and guidelines. 
in the 12 categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law will be able
to make arrangements through any service provider that complies with the
U.S. Treasury’s Office
of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing travel services
to Cuba, and general licenses will authorize provision of such
policy changes make it easier for Americans to provide business
training for private Cuban businesses and small farmers and provide
other support for the growth of Cuba’s
nascent private sector.  Additional options for promoting the growth of
entrepreneurship and the private sector in Cuba will be explored.

Facilitating remittances to Cuba by U.S. persons-

levels will be raised from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for general
donative remittances to Cuban nationals (except to certain officials of
the government or the Communist
party); and donative remittances for humanitarian projects, support for
the Cuban people, and support for the development of private businesses
in Cuba will no longer require a specific license.
Remittance forwarders will no longer require a specific license.

Authorizing expanded commercial sales/exports from the United States of certain goods and services-

expansion will seek to empower the nascent Cuban private sector.  Items
that will be authorized for export include certain building materials
for private residential construction,
goods for use by private sector Cuban entrepreneurs, and agricultural
equipment for small farmers.  This change will make it easier for Cuban
citizens to have access to certain lower-priced goods to improve their
living standards and gain greater economic
independence from the state.

Authorizing American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba-

U.S. travelers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 worth of goods
from Cuba, of which no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products
and alcohol combined.

Facilitating authorized transactions between the United States and Cuba-

institutions will be permitted to open correspondent accounts at Cuban
financial institutions to facilitate the processing of authorized
regulatory definition of the statutory term “cash in advance” will be
revised to specify that it means “cash before transfer of title”; this
will provide more efficient financing
of authorized trade with Cuba.
U.S. credit and debit cards will be permitted for use by travelers to Cuba.
These measures will improve the speed, efficiency, and oversight of authorized payments between the United States and Cuba.

Initiating new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and their ability to communicate freely-

has an internet penetration of about five percent—one of the lowest
rates in the world.  The cost of telecommunications in Cuba is
exorbitantly high, while the services
offered are extremely limited.
commercial export of certain items that will contribute to the ability
of the Cuban people to communicate with people in the United States and
the rest of the world will
be authorized.  This will include the commercial sale of certain
consumer communications devices, related software, applications,
hardware, and services, and items for the establishment and update of
communications-related systems.
providers will be allowed to establish the necessary mechanisms,
including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide commercial
telecommunications and internet services,
which will improve telecommunications between the United States and

Updating the application of Cuba sanctions in third countries-

or -controlled entities in third countries will be generally licensed
to provide services to, and engage in financial transactions with, Cuban
individuals in third
countries.  In addition, general licenses will unblock the accounts at
U.S. banks of Cuban nationals who have relocated outside of Cuba; permit
U.S. persons to participate in third-country professional meetings and
conferences related to Cuba; and, allow foreign
vessels to enter the United States after engaging in certain
humanitarian trade with Cuba, among other measures.

Pursuing discussions with the Cuban and Mexican governments to discuss our unresolved maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico-

agreements between the United States and Cuba delimit the maritime
space between the two countries within 200 nautical miles from shore. 
The United States, Cuba, and
Mexico have extended continental shelf in an area within the Gulf of
Mexico where the three countries have not yet delimited any boundaries.
United States is prepared to invite the governments of Cuba and Mexico
to discuss shared maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Initiating a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism-

President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch
such a review, and provide a report to the President within six months
regarding Cuba’s support for
international terrorism.  Cuba was placed on the list in 1982.

Addressing Cuba’s participation in the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama-

Obama will participate in the Summit of the Americas in Panama.  Human
rights and democracy will be key Summit themes.  Cuban civil society
must be allowed to participate
along with civil society from other countries participating in the
Summit, consistent with the region’s commitments under the
Inter-American Democratic Charter.  The United States welcomes a
constructive dialogue among Summit governments on the Summit’s

Unwavering Commitment to Democracy, Human Rights, and Civil Society

critical focus of our increased engagement will include continued
strong support by the United States for improved human rights conditions
and democratic reforms
in Cuba.  The promotion of democracy supports universal human rights by
empowering civil society and a person’s right to speak freely,
peacefully assemble, and associate, and by supporting the ability of
people to freely determine their future.   Our efforts
are aimed at promoting the independence of the Cuban people so they do
not need to rely on the Cuban state.