U.S. loosens restrictions on shipping cell phones to Cuba
The U.S. Commerce Department has updated its rules to allow Americans to send cellular phones and related accessories to family members in Cuba.
Under existing licensing authorities, eligible family members may send certain items to Cuba in a monthly gift parcel. The rule change expands the list of items to include cell phones, and increases the dollar value limit to $400, enabling shipments of cell phones without reducing the quantity of other humanitarian items, the department said.
It also permits U.S. family members to send gift parcels through businesses currently licensed by the Commerce Department. These gift parcel consolidators do not require a new license. In addition, eligible family members may take cell phones and related accessories to Cuba under licenses issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
In a June 13 announcement, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez took a shot at the Castro regime’s recent economic reforms.
“Letting Cubans have toasters isn’t real change,” Gutierrez said. “Nevertheless, in light of Cuba allowing cell phones, as the president said, the U.S. will now allow Americans to send cell phones to relatives in Cuba. Let’s see if the Castro regime is serious about allowing the Cuban people to communicate more freely.”
On March 28, the Cuban government announced it would reauthorize Cuba’s state-owned telephone offices to begin selling cellular phone services to the general public, and permitted Cubans to freely purchase and use phones, or to register illegally owned phones.