Air services

US lifts restrictions on air services to and from Cuba — MercoPress

US lifts restrictions on air services to and from Cuba

Thursday, June 2, 2022 – 09:43 UTC


Cuba called it a “limited step in the right direction”, which “does not change” the embargo in place for six decades

The U.S. government of President Joseph Biden on 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 that the measure was adopted following a request from the State Department.

On January 10, 2020, the United States suspended until further notice all public charter flights to and from Cuban airports other than José Martí International Airport in Havana, at the request of the Secretary of State of at the time, Michael Pompeo, who also imposed a cap on the number of charters. flights to this destination.

These two measures were aimed at “limiting the regime’s ability to obtain economic advantages which it uses to finance repression”, it was explained at the time.

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 opportunity so that they can lead successful lives at home.”

Cuba called it a “limited step in the right direction”, which “does not change” the embargo in place for six decades. Trump had even tightened the economic embargo in force since 1962 in Cuba in order to force a change of regime, thus reversing the opening favored by President Barack Obama (2009-2017), when Biden was vice-president.

Cuba’s one-party rule 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 has caused unease among Republicans and even some Democrats, especially after protests in 2021 that left one dead, dozens injured and more than 1,300 arrests, according to Miami-based Cubalex.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said opening flights to Cuba was “in support of the Cuban people and in the interest of United States foreign policy.” He added that “scheduled and charter air services between the United States and Cuban airports could resume immediately.”

The Biden administration also said it would take steps to restore Cuba’s parole program for family reunification, which has a backlog of more than 20,000 applications, and would increase consular services and visa processing.