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Washington banning US flights to all Cuban cities but Havana

Published:Monday | October 28, 2019 | 9:45 AM
In this August 31, 2016 file photo, airport workers receive JetBlue flight 387, the first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century, holding a United States and a Cuban national flag, on the airport tarmac in Santa Clara, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

MIAMI (AP) — The Trump administration is banning United States flights to all Cuban cities except Havana in the latest move to roll back the Obama-era easing of relations, officials said Friday.

Supporters of the ban said it would starve the Havana government of cash and limit its ability to repress Cubans and support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whom the US wants to overthrow.

Opponents said prohibiting flights would simply make it harder for Cuban-Americans to visit their families outside the capital, without making a significant impact on the Cuban government.

The State Department said JetBlue flights to Santa Clara in central Cuba and the eastern cities of Holguin, Camaguey would be banned starting in December.

American Airlines flights to Camaguey, Holguin and Santa Clara, the beach resort of Varadero and the eastern city of Santiago are also being banned.

Flights to Havana, which account for the great majority of the US flights to Cuba, will remain legal.

“This action will prevent the Castro regime from profiting from US air travel and using the revenues to repress the Cuban people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter.

Raul Castro stepped down as president last year but remains head of the Communist Party, the country’s highest authority.

Another stated reason for the move is to prevent tourism to Cuba, which is barred by US law.

But it is not clear how many people take the banned flights for tourism purposes.

Many are used by Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in cities far from Havana by road.

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