No word on easing Cuba travel restrictions from Obama administration

The Miami HeraldSeptember 17, 2010 

The Obama administration has remained mum on when — or if — it will unveil a long-expected expansion of U.S. travel to Cuba, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Thursday.

Peter Brennan, coordinator of Cuban affairs at the State Department, gave no indications at all on any changes in the travel policy when she and Mario Diaz-Balart met him Wednesday, Ros-Lehtinen said.

She said the South Florida Republicans requested the meeting because of the many news media reports that the administration plans to ease travel to Cuba.

Her understanding from Brennan was that there was "no policy decisions that are ready to be announced," she said. "But we know those changes are coming."

State Department spokeswoman Virginia Staab did not comment on the news media reports but said the administration "remains committed to promoting policies that advance the Cuban people's desire to freely determine their country's future, that enhance the independence of the Cuban people, and that further the [U.S.] national interests. Mr. Brennan did not say anything to the contrary to members of Congress."

Ros-Lehtinen said she and Diaz-Balart told Brennan they oppose softening the travel restrictions because that would only help the Cuban government "at a time when the regime is very weak."

The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and other news media have reported the White House had decided to ease restrictions on educational and cultural travel to Cuba. Some reports predicted the changes would be unveiled during the recent congressional recess, but no announcement was made.

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