US, Cuba to reopen embassies this summer

1 Jul 15

UNITED STATES

The U.S. and Cuba will reopen embassies in Havana and Washington later this month, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday.

The move follows months of diplomacy after Obama’s announcement in December that the U.S. would work to normalize relations with Cuba.

“This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people, and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas,” Obama said in remarks from the White House Rose Garden.

The U.S. closed its embassy and cut relations with Cuba more than 54 years ago. While reopening the embassy would indeed be a historic development, most forms of trade and general tourism remain off-limits with Cuba.

The Obama administration did take steps in January to loosen travel restraints and broaden permissible business activities for specific groups of people. Nevertheless, anyone planning travel to Cuba should be extremely careful to ensure that they are within the bounds of the law.

Obama framed future relations with Cuba as “a choice between the future and the past” and called on Congress to take steps toward lifting a trade embargo on Cuba that “prevents Americans from traveling or doing business in Cuba.”

BAL Analysis: While the announcement is a signal of dramatically improved relations between the U.S. and Cuba, those in the U.S. considering traveling to Cuba or doing business there must ensure that their activities are legal. Contact a BAL attorney if you have any questions about which activities are permissible.

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