Washington, D.C. — The Obama administration, in a test of the Castro regime’s appetite for reform, is considering easing travel restrictions to Cuba, U.S. and congressional officials said Tuesday.
The move would leave intact the nearly 50-year-old embargo against the communist regime but would expand opportunities for American students, educators and researchers to visit Cuba, the officials said. The discussions to ease restrictions follow the release in July of the first batch of political prisoners Havana had pledged to free.
President Barack Obama has said that he wants to reach out to Cuba and promote democracy there by easing travel and financial restrictions. But he has also said there must be political or economic reforms before the U.S. takes further steps to ease Cuba’s isolation.
A decision could be announced before the end of next week. However, the officials cautioned that political considerations could hold up a decision, possibly until after November’s midterm congressional elections. They spoke on condition of anonymity because internal deliberations continue on the scope and scale of the changes.