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US Bans Most Solo Travel to Cuba, Imposes Tighter Sanctions

09 November 2017

The U.S. government made it tougher on Wednesday for Americans to visit Cuba and do business in the country, making good on a pledge by President Donald Trump to roll back his Democratic predecessor's move toward warmer ties with Havana.

The restrictions are aimed at finally enacting what Trump in June described as plans to reverse the Obama-era diplomatic opening with the communist-ruled island.

The new rules "are meant to steer economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence and security services ... and encourage the government to move toward greater economic freedom" for the Cuban people, according to a senior administration official, one of several authorized by the White House to brief reporters on the changes on condition of anonymity.

While U.S. travelers will still be able to make authorized trips to Cuba with a U.S. -based organization and accompanied by a U.S. representative of the group, it will be harder for them to travel individually, according to the new regulations.

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Such measures entail changes in the program of sanctions against Cuba that was announced by the Republican president in June, when he made a decision to roll back several steps on Cuba taken his predecessor, Barack Obama (2009-2017). "Far from promoting human rights in Cuba, these new regulations will hurt fledgling entrepreneurs and the rest of the Cuban people by discouraging Americans from traveling there".

"The hypocrisy of the White House ideologues is glaring", Leahy said in a statement.

The U.S. on Wednesday moved to curtail travel to Cuba amid strained relations between the Cold War rivals, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency. Those who booked "people to people" trips before Trump's June announcement will be exempt, along with Americans who organized education trips before the rules start on Thursday.

The measures, to come into force one week after 191 of 193 United Nations member countries condemned Washington's blockade on Cuba for more than half a century, also amends the definition of "Cuban Government banned officials to include some additional individuals". The U.S. first complained to Cuba's government about the attacks in February, four months before Trump announced his broader policy intentions. Officials said they would use information obtained from several US agencies to catch violators, who could be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution.

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Any entity on that list, will now not be allowed to engage in financial transactions with Americans and visa versa.

The blacklist bars business with the large military-run corporations that dominate the Cuban economy.

Blacklisted hotels include the Manzana Kempinski, which opened with great fanfare this year as Cuba's first to meet the global five-star standard.

In total, more than 80 hotels, 10 stores, 5 marinas and 2 tourist agencies in Cuba are restricted.

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US Bans Most Solo Travel to Cuba, Imposes Tighter Sanctions