Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

US Tightens Restrictions On Cuba Travel, Business & Trade

US Tightens Restrictions On Cuba Travel, Business & Trade

The US government announced additional sanctions and travel restrictions on Cuba Wednesday, following up on an announcement by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

The State Department has also published a list of 180 entities including hotels, stores, rum makers, marinas and a economic development zone at the Port of Mariel, which are believed to financially benefit the Cuban military, intelligence and security services and which USA citizens will no longer be permitted to frequent.

"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 in a statement.

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

Much as Obama used his regulatory authority to loosen restrictions within an ongoing USA economic embargo on Cuba, Trump has now changed those regulations to re-tighten them.

Such measures entail changes in the program of sanctions against Cuba that was announced by the Republican president in June, when he made a decision to roll back several steps on Cuba taken his predecessor, Barack Obama (2009-2017). The policies take effect Thursday.

The tighter regulations were met with criticism by Senator Patrick Leahy, who said they are "what one would expect of a paranoid totalitarian government, not a democracy like ours".

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According to the statement, the aim is to maintain "opportunities for Americans to engage in authorised travel to Cuba and support the private, small business sector in Cuba".

The list goes on to list dozens of major hotels in Havana and several resorts, along with five Caribbean marinas, ten stores in touristy Old Havana and industries serving the military.

The measures include a ban on dealings with 180 state-run and military-owned companies.

The regulations permit continuance of airline and cruise travel and existing business relationships. US government officials told The Associated Press that the restrictions aim to decrease American trade and commerce with businesses backed by the Cuban military.

US tourists look at products inside the Cuban private design store Clandestina in Havana, Cuba, October 23, 2017.

The administration's policy change comes 20 months after Obama became the first sitting USA president in almost a century to visit the island - part of numerous efforts his administration made to thaw relations between the United States and Cuba.

The new policy changes will be posted to the Federal Register.

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