Fidel Castro smokes a cigar during interviews with the press in Havana
Fidel Castro smokes a cigar during interviews with the press in Havana during a visit of U.S. Senator Charles McGovern in this file photo from May 1975. Picture taken May 1975 REUTERS/Prensa Latina

The United States and Cuba seem to be all set to restore diplomatic relations after more than 50 years. U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce some of the major changes in U.S. policies toward the communist nation.

Obama spoke to Cuban President Raul Castro over the phone on Tuesday and discussed the probable changes in policies. Toronto Sun reported that discussion had lasted for around an hour. Here are some of the changes Obama is expected to announce.

Restoring Diplomatic Relations

According to senior officials, Obama has asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to start discussions immediately on restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba. CTV News reported that the diplomatic relations between the countries had been cut off in 1961. A U.S. Embassy is expected to open soon in Havana, Cuba's national capital. High level diplomatic visits and exchanges will start between the governments to normalise the situation.

Increasing Remittance Limits

People in the U.S. will be permitted to send more money to Cuba. There will, however, be exceptions for some communist party members and government officials. The limit is $500 in every three months at the moment that is going to increase to $2,000. Obama earlier allowed unlimited number of family visits by Cuban-Americans. The U.S. president also removed a $1,200 annual cap on remittances.

More Travel

The United States will ease licensed travel to Cuba. There are 12 categories of travel at present that are authorised under U.S. law. The categories include family visits, journalistic visits, educational activities, public performances and athletic competitions. U.S. regulations are expected to authorise certain export transactions and transmission of information.


Cuban cigars need no introduction as they are considered among the finest in the world. U.S. travellers to Cuba will be allowed to bring in up to $400 of merchandise which includes alcohol and tobacco products worth no more than $100 combines. The Cuban cigars brought to the U.S. should, however, only be for personal use.

Financial Transactions

U.S. organisations will be permitted to open correspondent accounts at Cuban banks, which will allow smoother transactions. U.S. travellers will be allowed to use their native debit and credit cards during their travel to Cuba.

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