The US Government announced new rules yesterday designed to steer U.S. economic activity away from Cuba’s military, intelligence and security services, which dominate much of the islands economy through state-controlled corporations. The goal is to encourage financial support for Cuba’s growing private sector, said senior Trump administration officials.
Dozens of Cuban hotels, shops, tour companies and other businesses are now off-limits to U.S. citizens. Americans will once again be required to travel as part of heavily regulated, organized tour groups run by U.S. companies, rather than voyaging to Cuba on their own. Cruise ship visits and direct commercial flights between the countries will still be permitted, and embassies in Washington and Havana will stay open.
“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
Trump announced his new policy in June, but the administration took several months to finalize the details of the new rules, which take effect today.
The new policy maintains several categories of travel to Cuba that are permitted despite the embargo, which carries on decades after the Cold War’s end. Americans can still travel on educational and “people to people” trips as well as visits designed to support the Cuban people by patronizing privately owned small businesses that have popped up across the island in recent years.
The blacklist bars business with the large military-run corporations that dominate the Cuban economy. These include GAESA and CIMEX, holding companies that control most retail business on the island; Gaviota, the largest tourism company; and Habaguanex, which runs Old Havana.
Blacklisted hotels include the Manzana Kempinski, which opened with great fanfare this year as Cuba’s first to meet the international five-star standard.
The overall impact on American business with Cuba will likely be limited. Trade is sparse. Many American travelers already stay at hotels not on the no-go list. Bringing home limited quantities of rum and Cuban cigars is still allowed, officials said.
To view the State Department’s Cuba Information Page, click here.
To view the Cuba Restrictions List, click here.