WASHINGTON — The United States announced regulatory changes on Tuesday to increase support for the Cuban people and independent private sector entrepreneurs. The changes will enable more U.S. financial support for small private businesses in Cuba, enhance internet-based services on the island and broaden access to financial services.

The new U.S. measures come as the communist-run island faces a social and economic crisis, including severe shortages of food, fuel, electricity and medicine.

A senior administration official stated that the new authorization allows Cuba’s independent private sector entrepreneurs to open and remotely access U.S. bank accounts, including through U.S. online payment platforms.

As of 2021, Cuban entrepreneurs can establish small and medium private enterprises under Cuban law. By the latest count, there are over 11,000 registered private businesses in Cuba.

“It’s important to note that the new definition for independent private sector entrepreneurship excludes prohibited officials of the Cuban government, such as National Assembly members, Cuban military officers, certain ministry staff, regime propagandists and prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party,” the senior official told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday.

New U.S. regulatory measures will benefit the Cuban people while continuing to minimize resources to the Cuban government, said another senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration.

“We believe that the growth of an independent entrepreneurial private sector in Cuba is fully aligned with our values and is the best hope for generating economic development and employment in Cuba,” said the senior official.

The Treasury Department said that Tuesday’s regulatory changes will allow Cuban nationals to open, maintain and remotely use U.S. bank accounts, including through online payment platforms, to conduct authorized or exempt transactions, whether the independent private sector entrepreneur is physically located in the United States, Cuba or another country.

Earlier this month, the U.S. removed Cuba from its list of countries “not cooperating fully” in the fight against terrorism. However, Cuba remains on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

The cooperation against terrorism list, which the State Department is required by law to provide to Congress, is not the same as the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

U.S. officials declined to comment on whether the State Department has begun a formal review of Cuba’s presence on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. U.S. sanctions against the Cuban government, its military intelligence and security services remain in place.

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