- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Obama administration eased trade and travel restrictions on Cuba Tuesday, granting more economic benefits for the communist-ruled island nation in advance of President Obama’s historic trip there next week.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the steps will “empower the Cuban people and advance their financial freedoms, and chart a new course in U.S.-Cuba relations.”

The changes will allow Cubans to open U.S. bank accounts and authorize those living in the U.S. to earn a salary or compensation, the Treasury and Commerce departments said.

Mr. Obama will start a three-day visit to Cuba on Sunday, becoming the first sitting president to travel there in nearly 90 years. He announced the move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and the Castro regime in late 2014.

Amendments to U.S. regulations will also allow Americans to visit Cuba for “people-to-people educational travel,” the administration said.

“These steps not only expand opportunities for economic engagement between the Cuban people and the American business community, but will also improve the lives of millions of Cuba’s citizens,” said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

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