Under a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of February, travel restrictions may be eased for Cuban Americans wishing to visit Cuba.
Current rules allow travel to Cuba only once every three years for visits to close family members. Visitors can stay up to 14 days and are not permitted to spend more than $50 a day.
The new rules would lift the 14-day time limit, allow visits to relatives once a year and increase the spending limit to $170 a day. Additionally, the legislation would allow for general licenses permitting travel to Cuba for marketing and selling agricultural products.
These changes are part of a larger spending bill that must now pass in the Senate before becoming law. The matter is expected to be taken up by the Senate as soon as Friday, but its passing is threatened by opposition.
Cuban-American Florida Senator Mel Martinez, for example, is not in favor of relaxing restrictions. He made this statement minutes after the House passed the bill: "I am very concerned about any efforts to modify our policies toward the Cuban government so long as the authoritarian regime continues to deny basic human rights to its people.''