barack_obama_8.jpgThe Obama administration on Monday announced that it has decided to loosen restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba for Cuban-Americans, according to news reports.




The decision, just days before President Obama leaves for the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, represents a significant shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba, according to CNN.

Several key components of America's nearly half-century embargo on the island nation, however, will be preserved, CNN reported.

Among other things, Americans will still be barred from sending gifts or other items to high-ranking Cuban government officials and Communist Party members, the news service reported.

Also, travel restrictions for Americans of non-Cuban descent also will remain in place, according to CNN.

Obama was making good on a campaign promise with this announcement. Before he was elected, he pledged to lower some of the barriers on Cuban-American relations.

The president chose to rely on aides to make the announcement for him, rather than making the announcement in person.

Dan Restrepo, Obama’s foreign policy adviser for Latin American Affairs, first made the announcement in Spanish during a news conference Monday afternoon at the White House.

“The president is doing today what the president promised to do,’’ White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said during the news conference.

bbennett@sfltimes.com