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4 Jun, 2019 17:27

Major Cuban travel bans imposed by US to curb Havana’s role in Western hemisphere

Major Cuban travel bans imposed by US to curb Havana’s role in Western hemisphere

The US is imposing wide-ranging travel bans on Cuba, aimed at cutting the flow of tourists to the island, in order to punish Havana for their “destabilizing role” in the Western hemisphere which Washington regards as its own.

The Treasury Department announced on Tuesday that so-called “People-to-People” educational and cultural trips to Cuba would no longer be permitted, eliminating the most common way Americans visit the island nation. These trips had been used by thousands of US citizens to visit the country even before diplomatic relations were restored in 2014.

While academic, journalistic and professional travel will still be allowed, the statement also declared a ban on all private aircraft and boat travel to the communist-ruled country.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the US would be tightening its sanctions regime against Havana, and that the measures would go into effect tomorrow. National Security Advisor John Bolton also chimed in on Twitter, saying that the US would “continue to take actions to restrict the Cuban regime’s access to U.S. dollars.

Mnuchin explained that the new restrictions are a response to Havana’s foreign policy efforts in the Americas.

Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly cited Cuba’s support for the left-wing Venezuelan government as an excuse for the failure of US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido to take power in the country. Despite that the self-declared interim president’s attempted military coup falling flat earlier in the year, Washington continues to promote him as the country’s only legitimate authority.

Until these recent tensions, relations between the US and Cuba had been improving since 2014, when then presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro signed a “normalization agreement,” loosening economic constraints and taking Havana off Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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Although today’s measures are the administration’s most extreme to date, Trump had already partially rebuked the normalization agreement in 2017, announcing that he had “canceled” his predecessor’s deal and was reinstating some of the former business and travel restrictions.

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