Obama Eases Embargo on Gizmos to Cuba

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Obama administration is easing embargo restrictions on export of donated consumer electronics to Cuba. President Obama ordered the Bureau of Industry and Security to enhance the flow of information to and from Cuba and to promote contacts between Americans and their relatives in Cuba.
     Under the new rules, a wide range of donated devices and software can be sent to Cuba without a license. The items include mobile phones, personal digital assistants, laptop and desktop computers, data storage devices, disk drives, flash drives, writable compact disks and floppy disks. The rules also allow satellite-based television and radio linkages and equipment, and the software and hardware to operate donated items.
     In his order, President Obama noted the U.S. policy of promoting democracy and human rights in Cuba and stated that “measures that decrease the dependency of the Cuban people on the Castro regime and that promote contact between Cuban-Americans and their relatives in Cuba are means to encourage positive change in Cuba.”
     Under the new rules, except for food shipments, gift packages still only may be sent once a month, and keep to the retail value limit. However, the limit has been increased from $400 to $800. Items in the gift packages now may include consumer electronics, “clothing, personal hygiene items, seeds, veterinary medicines and supplies, fishing equipment and supplies, soap-making equipment, and non-sensitive items normally sent as gifts between individuals.”
     Baggage weight limits also have been lifted for those visiting Cuba, although the requirement remains that most items brought into the county must be brought back out unless consumed there.
     Those license holders allowed to send consolidated shipments of gift parcels may use the new requirements before obtaining a new license.
     Only “mass market” electronics may be sent to Cuba, leaving out “encryption source code” and items that “employ sophisticated encryption techniques.”

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