President Obama made the announcement and said it was part of a new deal worked out to have Cuba release Alan Gross, an American prisoner there.
“We will end an outdated approach,” Obama said. “We intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people.”
Americans will now be able to travel to the island and use credit cards there. U.S. banks can open accounts at Cuban financial institutions. It will be easier for U.S. companies to export products.
“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s time for a new approach.”
As part of the negotiations, Cuba released an American intelligence agent who had been imprisoned for nearly 20 years and Alan Gross, a 65 year old American who had been imprisoned in Havana since 2009.
The United States, meanwhile, released three Cuban spies who have served more than 13 years in prison. This prisoner swap opens the way for a policy change regarding Cuba that could become one of President Obama’s top foreign policy legacies.