Trump cracks down on travel, business ties with Cuba

Some fear Trump's new Cuba restrictions will allow Russia to expand its influence in the United States' backyard.
By Delila James | Nov 11, 2017
As promised five months ago, the Trump administration is implementing changes to the United States policy on relations with Cuba.

Beginning Thursday, Americans and American companies will be barred from doing business with a list of 180 entities allegedly linked to Cuban military, intelligence, or security services, according to ABC News.

The new restrictions "will encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people," a senior Treasury Department official told reporters Wednesday.

U.S. tourists also will no longer be able to travel to Cuba on individual exchange programs. Now they must travel with a sponsoring group or an American university.

The Cuban businesses under sanction include some well-known Havana hotels as well as shops in Old Havana, rum producers, and real estate companies, the ABC News report said.

Penalties for breaking the rules include stiff fines and prosecution after multiple violations. The restrictions will be enforced by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, with help for Customs and Border Patrol.

Some advocacy groups think the restrictions will hurt, not help, the Cuban people.

"It deters U.S. travelers from going to Cuba and supporting the local Cuban community," said Charel van Dam of the Cuba Travel Network, in a statement. "It only seems to undermine the actual ideology of why these restrictions have been set up in the first place."

According to James Williams, president of Engage Cuba a coalition of businesses seeking to end the embargo the restrictions leave an opening for Russia to expand its influence.

"While the Cuban people and U.S. businesses lose out, reverting back to our policy of isolation is a gift to the Kremlin," Williams said, in a statement. "Russian is quickly expanding its foothold in Cuba, looking to regain its once diminished sphere of influence in our backyard."


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