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Number of US tourists to Cuba almost DOUBLES amid Trump’s sanctions & threats

Number of US tourists to Cuba almost DOUBLES amid Trump’s sanctions & threats
Despite the Trump administration’s pressure on Cuba and threats to impose a “full and complete embargo”, US tourists have been flocking to the country in record numbers, according to data provided by Cuban authorities.

Washington is working hard to portray Cuba as a villain that impedes the ascent of democracy in Venezuela by keeping the crisis-hit country under “occupation.” However, that doesn’t seem to do much to discourage US tourists from swarming the island’s world-famous white sand beaches.

Also on rt.com Trump threatens Cuba with 'full embargo and highest-level sanctions' over Venezuela

Michel Bernal, commercial director at Cuba's tourism ministry, said Monday that there has been an almost twofold increase in visitors from the US in the first four months of the year. 93.5 percent more US citizens visited Cuba from January to April than during the same period of last year, he said, as quoted by Granma, the official newspaper of Cuba’s communist party.

That has made the US one of the top two countries that supply tourists to Cuba. The US only trails behind its northern neighbor, Canada.

Cuba saw a seven percent increase in total tourist arrivals compared to the previous year. Bernal noted that, while choosing their holiday destination, visitors apparently paid no heed to Washington’s hostile rhetoric.

“Despite defamatory campaigns against Cuba, 13.5 percent of tourists that visit us say they chose the island for its safety,” he said.

A total of 1.93 million foreign visitors came to the country in the first quarter of 2019. While the number of tourists to Cuba in on the rise, there has been a mild setback in terms of European arrivals. The number of visitors from Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain decreased on average by 10-13 percent, while the number of tourists from Russia grew.

As its quest to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power stalls, the Trump administration has been piling pressure on Cuba and Russia, the main allies of Caracas. 

US special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams has indicated that Washington plans to slap new sanctions on Havana and Moscow if they do not cease backing the Venezuelan leader.

“We will have more sanctions,” Abrams told the Washington Free Beacon, in an interview on Monday, adding that the new measures might be unveiled “over the next weeks.”

“There is a long list and we are basically going down the list,” Abrams said.

Reversing the Obama administration’s détente with Cuba, Trump’s White House has employed arm-twisting tactics against the island. Last week, it allowed US citizens to sue foreign companies profiting from properties that Cuba seized or nationalized after the 1959 revolution, by refusing to renew the decades-old suspension of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which had reinforced the embargo. Cuba denounced the law as “illegal” and “a miscarriage of justice.” It also drew ire from the EU, that said it runs counter to international law and US-EU agreements.

Earlier, Donald Trump threatened to impose a “full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions” on Cuba if it does not withdraw its support from Maduro.

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