Trump administration halts cruises to Cuba under new rules
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Tuesday imposed major new travel restrictions on visits to Cuba by U.S. citizens, banning stops by cruise ships and ending a heavily used form of educational travel as it seeks to further isolate the communist government.
The Treasury Department announced that the U.S. will no longer allow cruises to Cuba or the group educational and cultural trips known as “people to people” travel to the island.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the measures are a response to what it calls Cuba’s “destabilising role” in the Western Hemisphere, including support for the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
“This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime,” Mnuchin said.
“These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.”
Cruise ships have brought thousands of Americans to Cuba since the U.S. began restoring full diplomatic relations with the communist government in December 2014 and have provided an important economic lifeline to the island.
Along with the cruise ships, the U.S. will also now ban most private planes and boats from stopping in the island.
“Consequently, private and corporate aircraft, cruise ships, sailboats, fishing boats, and other similar aircraft and vessels generally will be prohibited from going to Cuba,” according to the new rules published by the Commerce Department.
The new restrictions take effect Wednesday, but the government will allow anyone who has already paid for the trip to go ahead with it.
Commercial airline flights appear to be unaffected and travel for university groups, academic research, journalism and professional meetings will continue to be allowed.