U.S. bans travel to Cuba
In an effort to prevent island government’s enrichment, backing of Maduro in Venezuela
SAN JUAN — The U.S. State Department said the administration of President Trump took action Tuesday to prevent U.S. travel to Cuba “from enriching the Cuban military, security, and intelligence services” by announcing new restrictions on travel to the island.
Starting Thursday, June 5, when the regulations are published in the Federal Register, U.S. travelers will be indefinitely prohibited from going to Cuba under the educational travel authorization implemented by the Obama administration, and the United States will no longer permit visits to the island via passenger or recreational vessels, including cruiseships and yachts, nor private or corporate aircraft.
According to a State Department release, the Trump administration “holds the Cuban regime accountable for its repression of the Cuban people, its interference in Venezuela, and its direct role in the man-made crisis led by Nicolas Maduro. Despite widespread international condemnation, Maduro continues to undermine his country’s institutions and subvert the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination. Empowered by Cuba, he has created a humanitarian disaster that destabilizes the region.”
The State Department said the Cuban tourism industry has strong economic ties to the Cuban security, military, and intelligence sectors.
“Veiled tourism has served to line the pockets of the Cuban military, the very same people supporting Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and repressing the Cuban people on the island. In Cuba, the regime continues to harass, intimidate, and jail Cubans who dare to voice an opinion different from the one the regime wants them to have. The United States calls on the regime to abandon its repression of Cubans, cease its interference in Venezuela, and work toward building a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people,” the State Department wrote.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) presented amendments Tuesday to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), along with changes to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Export Administration Regulations (EAR).
The regulatory changes were announced April 17, and “mark a continued commitment towards implementing the National Security Presidential Memorandum signed by the President on June 16, 2017 titled ‘Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba,'” the Commerce Department said in its release.
Among the changes in the revised regulations are:
Ending Group People-to-People Travel
- In accordance with the newly announced changes to non-family travel to Cuba, OFAC is amending the regulations to remove the authorization for group people-to-people educational travel. OFAC’s regulatory changes include a “grandfathering” provision, which provides that certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorized will continue to be authorized where the traveler had already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to June 4, 2019.
Ending Exports of Passenger Vessels, Recreational Vessels, and Private Aircraft
- BIS, in coordination with OFAC, is amending its EAR to make passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft ineligible for license exception and to establish a general policy of denial for license applications involving those vessels and aircraft.