Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post
january 15, 2011

The Obama administration on Friday announced the broadest liberalization of travel to Cuba in a decade, making it easier for American students and religious and cultural groups to visit the Communist-ruled island.

It still will not be legal for ordinary American tourists to vacation in Cuba, which has been under a U.S. economic embargo for nearly 50 years.

But the measures will expand the categories of who is authorized to travel, which are currently restricted to Cuban Americans and a limited number of others. They also will allow U.S. citizens to send up to $2,000 a year to help Cubans support religious institutions or run small businesses.

“We see these changes as increasing people-to-people contact, helping strengthen Cuban civil society and, frankly, making Cuban people less dependent on the Cuban state,” said a senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition his name was not used.

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