US Tightens Restrictions On Cuba Travel, Business & Trade

Travel to Cuba gets much harder Thursday under new Trump rules

"08 de noviembre de 2017, 12:57Washington, Nov 8 (Prensa Latina) The government of the United States today announced more restrictions to USA citizens interested in doing business with Cuba and traveling to the Caribbean island, by virtue of a presidential memorandum that reverses major aspects of the two countries" rapprochement.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the new rules will prod Cuba's communist regime to allow "greater political and economic freedom".

The Cuban military is deeply enmeshed in much of the island's economy, including the tourism industry.

Americans wanting to visit Cuba will have to go as part of organized tour groups run by USA companies.

The new rules don't significantly roll back former President Barack Obama's 2014 normalization of relations with Cuba. But the rules were quickly denounced by travel groups and proponents of closer US ties to the island. "Far from promoting human rights in Cuba, these new regulations will hurt fledgling entrepreneurs and the rest of the Cuban people by discouraging Americans from traveling there".

The measures, to come into force one week after 191 of 193 United Nations member countries condemned Washington's blockade on Cuba for more than half a century, also amends the definition of "Cuban Government banned officials to include some additional individuals".

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

"A backward-looking policy harms both Cubans and Americans", she told Anadolu Agency. "Restrictions on trade and travel are hammering Cuba's private sector, which has grown through interaction with US travelers and USA companies, and put the USA on the sidelines, politically and economically, at a time of transition in Cuba".

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

The regulations permit continuance of airline and cruise travel and existing business relationships.

The Treasury Department is exempting trips booked before Trump announced his Cuba policy on June 16. Officials said they would use information obtained from several USA agencies to catch violators, who could be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution.

The list of entities that Americans can not do business with includes a special development zone at Cuba's Mariel port, which Cuba hopes to develop into a major Caribbean industrial and shipping hub with tax and customs breaks.

The Cuban hotels listed included those run by military-linked chains Gaviota and Habaguanex.

Blacklisted hotels include the Manzana Kempinski, which opened with great fanfare this year as Cuba's first to meet the worldwide five-star standard. Before Obama's opening, travel by many Americans was similarly restricted to such organized trips. American tourists typically stay at hotels not included on the Cuba Restricted List, and US -based flights and cruises are exempted from the regulations.

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

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