Cuba, US Struggle to Repair Long-Frayed Relationship
President Barack Obama has been under pressure to recast the nation's relations with Cuba and ease decades of restrictions on the Communist government. Already the president has ended travel limits on Cuban-Americans and called for new talks between the nations, but Havana says Washington is not going far enough.
As many people make plans to visit family for the holidays, Cuban-Americans are hoping to take advantage of new rules that ease travel to the island. Earlier this year, President Obama reversed a 2002 rule that limited how often Cuban-Americans could visit relatives or send remittances to the island. Supporters of the rule say fewer travelers meant less U.S. money was getting to the Cuban government, but critics say the rule simply kept families apart.
Since the change, travel agents say activity is up and some charter companies have added more flights to accommodate the flood of Cuban-Americans making trips back to the island.
In Miami, Alvaro Fernandez advocated against the U.S. travel restrictions for years. He was one of the first to take advantage of the new rules and return to Cuba earlier this year, and he says many other Cuban-Americans are doing the same.
"This time of the year is when people travel," he explained. "It's a family thing, they want to spend the end of the year together. So now with travel easier, more people are going."
At the same time, the Obama administration has been reaching out to the Cuban government to end decades of isolation and mutual distrust. Officials met in September to discuss renewing direct mail. They also plan to reopen talks on migration issues, which were canceled by former President George W. Bush in 2003