Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

USA tightens restrictions on travel to Cuba

USA tightens restrictions on travel to Cuba

The Trump administration announced new rules Wednesday to make it tougher for US businesses to work in Cuba and for Americans to travel to the island.

The State Department published a list of groups and businesses linked to the Cuban military, intelligence or security services that they believe disproportionately benefit the Cuban government at the expense of Cuba's private sector.

Those traveling to support the Cuban people need to have a full-time schedule of activities that show contact with the Cuban people, support for civil society and promote Cubans' independence from Cuban authorities.

The announcement of the restrictions was made at a time when several economic, academic and business sectors in the United States are interested in expanding their ties with Cuba and when surveys show that most US citizens favor an end to the blockade.

The new regulations take effect Thursday.

New rules are coming out Wednesday that put in place President Donald Trump's partial rollback of the Obama administration's diplomatic opening with Cuba. "The hypocrisy of the White House ideologues is glaring", Leahy said.

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There was no immediate reaction from Cuba's government.

"They talk about supporting entrepreneurs and the private sector", said Laverty.

The U.S. on Wednesday moved to curtail travel to Cuba amid strained relations between the Cold War rivals, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency. But they do ban Americans from doing business with scores of companies with ties to Cuba's military or security apparatus.

"He is putting us in serious danger by frightening away American visitors looking to rent our properties", said Norma Hernandez, who rents out rooms on Airbnb and who said her business flourished over the a year ago thanks to a surge in USA visitors.

Officials insisted that the new, tougher rules had no connection to the attacks.

Trump, who said during his campaign that he would "terminate" the Obama normalization if Cuba would not cut a "better deal" with the United States, announced during a June speech in Miami's Little Havana that changes would be made.

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USA airlines and cruise ships will continue to operate in Cuba under the new regulations. Officials said they would use information obtained from several US agencies to catch violators, who could be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution. Business deals already reached with entities on the prohibited list will be allowed to proceed.

The blacklist bars business with the large military-run corporations that dominate the Cuban economy.

It also targets a new cargo port and special trade zone outside the city of Mariel that has been the focus of Cuba's efforts to draw foreign investment in manufacturing and distribution.

In total, more than 80 hotels, 10 stores, 5 marinas and 2 tourist agencies in Cuba are restricted.

Bringing home limited quantities of rum and Cuban cigars is still allowed, officials said.

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