US travellers now enjoy new rights to bring back more Cuban cigars and rum

Posted: 21-Oct-16 12:24

Americans are expected to make the most of further executive decisions made by Washington, which will dramatically change the flow of medicine, tobacco and alcohol from the Caribbean island to the world’s most powerful country.

US travellers now enjoy new rights to bring back more Cuban cigars and rum

Since the Caribbean’s most culturally-isolated country adopted Communism in the 1950s, the country’s relationship with its far larger and much more powerful neighbour, the United States, has been fraught with problems. From travel restrictions to trade embargoes, until recently any Americans wanting to visit destinations like Havana had their work cut out for themselves.

All this has gradually been changing in recent years, though. Under the White House administration of Barack Obama, business and travel restrictions have been eased significantly, meaning it’s now possible for US nationals to visit Cuba for a number of reasons – from education to cultural research, corporate relationships to volunteer projects. The result is an expected exponential rise in tourists from North America visiting this iconic tropical island in the next 18 months.

Recent weeks have seen yet more easing of restrictions and legislation, too, with another round of executive decisions coming into effect that – according to USA Today – "are designed to increase trade and travel with the communist island”. A major part of this is the complete lifting of a ban on Cuban rum and the world-famous cigars the nation produces, meaning Americans are now well within their rights to bring back as much of these two highly sought after items as they want.

The new rules have now come into effect, meaning it’s possible to carry an unlimited number of hand-rolled smokes and expertly distilled alcohol without fear of repercussions when you hit Homeland Security. Providing, of course, that it’s possible to prove these products have been bought for personal consumption. This takes a previous partial lifting of the ban that still restricted U.S. citizens to a total of $100 worth of rum and cigars in carry-on luggage.

In addition to a complete U-turn on that old policy, the fresh changes brought in by Washington also include Cuban pharmaceuticals being marketed, sold and distributed in the U.S., opening up opportunities for collaboration between American and Cuban scientists. Cargo ships leaving Cuba can now immediately dock in U.S. ports (previously they had to leave 180 days between landing in either country), and Cubans can now purchase American products online, albeit the government retains tight restrictions on internet access. Perhaps conversely, it is still not possible for Americans to order Cuban products online.

White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a speech in Washington on Friday:

“Already we’re seeing what the United States and Cuba can accomplish when we put aside the past and work to build a brighter future. You can now celebrate with Cuban rum and Cuban cigars.”

It’s certainly something of a landmark move, perhaps more symbolically than economically, and one that we expect countless visitors to make the most of, indicative of an overall movement to finally bring these two widely divided nations closer again after years of almost non-existent diplomatic relations.


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