President Obama has announced he would lift restrictions on Cuban-Americans’ travel and transfer of remittances to the island, a move that has attracted both praise and criticism.
According to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, Obama has also set out to promote free information among Cuban people and with the outside world as well as facilitate humanitarian aid.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for the decision saying, "The Cuban people deserve free and fair elections and basic human rights [but] I believe this can be achieved without dividing families and denying many Cuban Americans a chance to see their loved ones."
However, not everyone agrees with this approach.
Representative Connie Mack, a Republican from Florida, has blasted Obama for acting unilaterally and preventing Congress from debating one of the most sensitive issues in American foreign policy.
"The Castro brothers’ iron grip on Cuba continues to be a clear example of a totalitarian regime that is determined to control the thoughts, hearts and actions of the Cuban people," he said, adding that the Cuban regime is one of the most brutal in the world.
The president’s decision represents a significant shift in U.S. policy, although the nearly five decade-long economic embargo remains in place.