You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

U.S. removes limits on bringing in Cuban rum, cigars


The Obama administration announced Friday that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island.

The administration is also lifting limits on cargo ship travel between the U.S. and Cuba and easing U.S. and Cuban researchers’ ability to conduct joint medical research. The measures are contained in a package of relatively small-scale regulatory changes meant to ease U.S. trade with Cuba.

The Obama administration has now made six sets of changes loosening the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba in the hopes that the normalization of relations with the island will not be reversed by a future administration. This round is expected to be the last before President Barack Obama leaves office.

Cuban rum and cigars will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries, meaning most travelers will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum. Because high-end Cuban cigars can sell for more than $100 apiece outside Cuba, every U.S. traveler can now legally bring back many thousands of dollars of Cuban products, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new annual revenue for the Cuban state.

The change does not mean that Cuban rum and cigars will be available for sale in the U.S. — the change is aimed at tobacco and alcohol brought home for personal use.

The previous limit restricted travelers to a combined value of $100 in rum and cigars, although enforcement of the limit notably declined after President Barack Obama declared detente with Cuba on Dec. 17, 2014.

The administration has described its policy goal as aimed at helping the Cuban people improve their lives by winning greater economic and political freedom from the single-party state.

“Challenges remain - and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights - but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values,” Obama said in a statement announcing the changes.

Rum and cigar production is entirely government-run under Cuba’s centrally planned communist economy. While the first regulatory changes focused narrowly on helping Cuba’s growing private sector, Friday’s new rules are almost entirely aimed at similarly state-run industries including shipping and medical products.

The package of regulatory changes announced Friday also allows cargo ships to visit U.S. ports directly after docking in Cuba. They had been barred from U.S. ports for 180 days after visiting Cuba. Cuba blamed that measure for harming its ability to import and export and dampening hopes that a new military-run port in the city of Mariel could serve as a major link in the regional cargo shipping system.

A senior Obama administration official said the new regulations’ focus on Cuban state enterprise should not be interpreted as a shift away from helping ordinary Cubans.

“We have designed the policy very much to have the maximum benefit to the Cuban people, broadly, but in so doing we are not restricting engagement with the Cuban state. That has been clear since Dec. 17, 2014,” the official said in a conference call with reporters held on condition of anonymity. “The Cuban people continue to be at the center of everything we’re doing.”

More than 160,000 American travelers visited Cuba last year and that figure is expected to double this year. Hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visit family on the island each year and will also be able to take advantage of the new measure, which comes a month and a half before the restart of commercial flights to Havana after more than 50 years.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Brace yourself for overbooked flights this summer

When United Airlines dragged a screaming man from his seat recently, bloodying him in the process, it caused a justifiable uproar. The resulting outrage is spurring a cry for additional fliers’ protections. When passengers aboard a small plane in Rochester, Minn., were held hostage for five-plus hours overnight in 2009, the incident and similar...
Travel Deals: Save on weekend flights to Europe and Scandinavia 

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  Land   - Topnotch Resort, in Stowe, Vermont, is offering a perks-filled package for pets and their people, with up to 15 percent savings. The Serve, Fetch, Love special starts at $618 and includes two nights' luxury accommodations; a 60-minute private tennis lesson or 90 minutes of...
Suitcase GPS? Scented bags? The latest travel gadgets.
Suitcase GPS? Scented bags? The latest travel gadgets.

At the International Travel Goods Show, held this month in Las Vegas, I saw the future of travel. We will always know the whereabouts of our checked luggage. We will sleep as comfortably on planes as kittens in a basket. And we will never again experience the horror of watching our gadgets power down with no outlets in sight.  Fortunately, we...
72 hours in Atlanta
72 hours in Atlanta

I never had a yearning to visit Atlanta. It just wasn’t a city on my radar. I’d flown through it a few times on my way to other cities, but hadn’t ever considered it as a travel destination. But when my mother, sister and I were trying to decide where to meet up for our annual girls’ weekend, we decided, why not try out Atlanta?...
Giraffe's baby bump boosts tiny zoo's upkeep, conservation
Giraffe's baby bump boosts tiny zoo's upkeep, conservation

April the giraffe has brought a bundle to a tiny zoo in rural upstate New York, thanks to a YouTube video livestream of her pregnancy and birth of an incredibly cute calf that has riveted viewers around the world.  Owners of the for-profit Animal Adventure Park won't say exactly how much they've pulled in from all April-related ventures, but internet...
More Stories