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Increased Travel Sanctions Placed on Cuba
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Cuba

Summary: The U.S. has placed more sanctions on the communist island, limiting the travel of individuals for pleasure so the Cuban military does not benefit from tourism.

The US government announced greater restrictions and sanctions on Cuba, keeping in line with an announcement President Donald Trump made earlier this year. The restrictions by the Treasury Department are on travel to the country for educational or cultural exchange groups. These groups are only allowed to travel to Cuba as sponsored groups in the United States, with the participation of representatives from the groups.

  
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Those traveling for “people-to-people” connections will not be allowed to continue such trips unless travel arrangements have already been made or on special circumstances when the individual is accompanied by permitted, US-based sponsors, according to a senior administration official.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom from the Cuban people.”

The State Department has provided a list of 180 entities like hotels, rum makers, stores, and marinas that strictly benefit the Cuban military, security services, and intelligence. These entities are banned from use by US citizens. The senior administration official explained, “Channeling economic activity away from entities controlled by the Cuban military will encourage the government to move towards greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people.”

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The Treasury Department stressed that “Renting a room in a private Cuban residence, eating at privately owned Cuban restaurants, and shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans are examples of authorized activities. However, in order to meet the requirement of a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in additional authorized support for the Cuban people activities.”

Groups advocating for improved relations between the US and Cuba such as Engage Cuba were disappointed in the announcement. They said the regulations “create a more convoluted, confusing and counterproductive approach to Cuba policy.”



Trump stated in June that he would be changing some of the changes former President Barack Obama made on Cuban sanctions. Obama spent much of his second term trying to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, making big strides that were soon undone. Travel to the communist island was first banned in the 1960s by President John F. Kennedy. In 2014, Obama opened up travel to the country for U.S. citizens. Things changed when the country’s dictator Fidel Castro died in a year ago. His brother assumed the reigns just as Trump was fighting for the presidency of the US.

Obama believed opening up tourism would help the people of Cuba while Trump sees that the Castro regime is getting most of the benefit, leading to the ban on specific entities.

Relations got worse in the country as a number of US embassy staff members in Cuba complained of health problems like hearing loss, headaches, and speech problems. A sonic boom weapon is the suspected cause of the illnesses but a source has been determined. Trump has pulled out most of the staff members as a result.

Do you think travel to Cuba should be allowed or should the communist country be treated like North Korea? Share your comments with us in the comments below.

To learn more about more about Cuba, read these articles:



 

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