US Bans Most Solo Travel to Cuba, Imposes Tighter Sanctions

US Bans Most Solo Travel to Cuba, Imposes Tighter Sanctions

US Bans Most Solo Travel to Cuba, Imposes Tighter Sanctions

The U.S. on Wednesday moved to curtail travel to Cuba amid strained relations between the Cold War rivals.

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 regulations specify that tour groups must be run by a USA company and be accompanied by a representative of the organization in a move reversing looser regulations that followed a diplomatic opening brokered by former President Barack Obama in 2015.

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 U.S. citizens will no longer be permitted to frequent.

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. Even before the attacks were revealed, the Trump administration had sought to reverse much of the previous administration's rapprochement with Cuba.

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"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", another senior administration official on the call asserted. Wednesday his administration released its new Cuba regulations - and ironically, private Cuban entrepreneurs may get hit worst. Collin Laverty, president of Cuba Educational Travel, called the policy "out of touch" with both Cuban and American interests.

"It is stunning", the Democratic senator said in a statement. "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 US on the sidelines, politically and economically, at a time of transition in Cuba".

USA airlines and cruise ships will continue to operate in Cuba under the new regulations. USA government officials told The Associated Press that the restrictions aim to decrease American trade and commerce with businesses backed by the Cuban military.

The tighter restrictions are not expected to have a significant impact on American travel to Cuba, that has surged in recent years. The Four Points by Sheraton Havana, owned by the USA company Starwood, is notably absent from the list, even while the Cuban holding company operating the hotel is on the list.

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