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The Obama administration has further relaxed a 54-year-old ban on foreign goods from Cuba — including the island nation’s famed rum and cigars — in an effort to increase trade and travel with America’s former Cold War foe.
Under the new rules, which take effect Oct. 17, U.S. travelers abroad are free to purchase all the Cuban rum and cigars they want, so long as they are for personal consumption.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the eased restrictions are the next step in President Barack Obama’s plan — which he announced in December 2014 — to bolster trade and promote economic opportunities for Cubans and Americans.
The new rules — which ease an embargo put in place by President John F. Kennedy in February 1962 — allow American travelers to purchase Cuban rum and cigars while visiting the island nation or another country where they’re sold and then bring them back to the U.S.
This is the second time the Obama administration has loosened the cigar and rum ban. In January 2015, the rules were eased to allow Americans traveling to Cuba to bring back up to $100 in rum and cigars.
You still can’t order Cuban cigars online and have them shipped to your home. It’s also still illegal for Cuban cigars to be sold commercially in the U.S.
According to USA Today, Obama says this move is his latest step to mend relations with the communist nation.
“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. The progress of the last two years, bolstered by today’s action, should remind the world of what’s possible when we look to the future together.”
Check out “Passenger Plane Service to Cuba Begins.”
What do you think of the eased restrictions on Cuban rum and cigar and the U.S. trying to mend its relationship with the island nation? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.