United States takes steps to make it harder for Americans to visit Cuba

Marsha Scott
November 9, 2017

Tighter restrictions on USA travellers to Cuba will go into effect on Thursday, officials said, nearly five months after President Donald Trump vowed to crack down.

Under the new rules, most individual visits to Cuba will no longer be allowed, and USA citizens will again have to travel as part of a licensed group, accompanied by a group representative.

The package includes a blacklist of state-owned companies and entities, including shops and hotels.

"We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people", he said. The Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana, famous for its connection to American novelist Ernest Hemingway, is also on the banned list.

In addition, Americans seeking to evade the general ban on travel to Cuba will only be allowed to do so on educational trips organized by a U.S. firm and with a guide.

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In June, Trump announced he would be rolling back some of the changes made by his predecessor, Barack Obama, who sought in his second term to restore diplomatic relations with the island nation.

Asked why the hotel was left off, the first official said, simply, "we assess how listing hotels would affect the Cuban people and whether doing so advances the interests of the United States". The organization has holdings in Cuba's hotel, rental vehicle, taxi and tour bus, convenience store and port logistics industries.

Travel on educational visas will no longer be allowed, requiring travelers to instead use a USA company. The Commerce Department will simplify and expand a license that allows American companies to export certain consumer products to Cuba without asking for special permission from the USA government. American travel to the island has increased exponentially. "They serve to placate a fading minority in South Florida, harming American and Cuban workers and families".

Not all of the administration's new Cuba regulations put up barriers to trade. Although the new blacklist is created to impact the Cuban military, the Trump administration has not commented on whether the restrictions are related to the "health attacks" that US government officials experienced in the Havana embassy.

"It's going to have a direct impact on the owners of bed-and-breakfasts in Cuba that have benefited so much from American visitors", said Collin Laverty, who heads Cuba Educational Travel, which helps Americans book visits to Cuba - often through room-sharing services like Airbnb. Administration officials said Wednesday that those actions were unrelated to the new regulations.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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