The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) today celebrated the historic moment that’s bringing normalization of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, said the agency.

The CELAC, whose president pro tempore resides in Costa Rica, said in a press release that the decision by both countries constitutes a “positive step” for the full normalization of relations and a “historic moment” for the hemisphere.

“We congratulate Cuba and the United States for their contribution in building a region of peace and dialogue, which advances new areas of understanding in the hemisphere,” cites the newsletter.

The CELAC expressed hope that this is a “clear signal for the desired end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade that has affected Cuba and its people for decades.”

The Community added that they celebrate the mutual release of prisoners serving sentences in prisons in Cuba and the US as a humanitarian measure that “contributes to a climate of trust.”

“We are confident that this announcement will help strengthen the regional political dialogue and to renew hemispheric cooperation for the benefit of our peoples,” cites the CELAC.

They also expressed satisfaction with the determination of Cuba and the United States to open embassies in both countries.

In case you missed it, US President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday a historic change in relations with Cuba because, in his view, the current policy “has failed for decades” and called for an “honest” debate in Congress over the weekend about the embargo imposed on the island since 1961.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro spoke by phone Tuesday to close the deal, after a negotiating process in which an important role was played by Pope Francisco and included secret meetings over several months of delegations from both countries, mostly held in Canada. Here is a summary of what they decided on:

 

  • General permit travel to Cuba from the United States, for people who currently have licensed trips to Cuba will be expanded.
  • It enables people living in the United States to provide business training to Cuban private companies and small farmers.
  • Permits remittance increases from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for Cuban citizens, and remittances for humanitarian projects and development of private enterprises that require no license.
  • Commercial sales and increased exports from the US to Cuba. Among the goods: building materials, goods for use in the private business sector and agricultural equipment are included.
  • Travelers who go to Cuba may import from the island to US up to $400 in assets.
  • US institutions may open accounts in Cuban financial institutions.
  • Commercial export of goods will be promoted in order to improve communication systems on the island. Also they’ll be allowed to provide commercial telecommunications and internet services.
  • The designation, in force since 1982, of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism will be reviewed. (EFE)

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica