The Slatest

Trump Administration Imposes New Travel Restrictions on Cuba, Further Rolling Back Obama-Era Détente

A Royal Caribbean cruise sails into the Havana harbor on May 6, 2019.
A Royal Caribbean cruise sails into the Havana harbor on May 6, 2019. YAMIL LAGE/Getty Images

The Trump administration announced new restrictions Tuesday on Americans traveling to Cuba, as it continues to undo the Obama-era diplomatic détente that allowed increased travel and expanded trade between the two nations. The latest crack down by the Treasury Department puts an end to cruises to the country, which accounted for more visitors than via airplanes, as well as what are referred to as “people to people” trips. Even though a ban on tourism remained during the 2016 thaw as part of the congressionally mandated economic embargo, the different exceptions had allowed for greatly expanded access to the country. Many of those have now been closed off by the Trump administration, although commercial airlines are expected to continue to be allowed to operate flights between the U.S. and Cuba.

The move was previewed in April by national security adviser John Bolton and comes amid Trump White House accusations that Havana continues to play a muck around in the region. “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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Tuesday. Recently, the Trump administration says Cuba has stationed 20,000 military and intelligence agents in Venezuela to help stabilize the current regime and keep President Nicolás Maduro in power. The White House is trying to achieve the opposite.

“The new rules do not include new restrictions on money sent by Cuban Americans to relatives on the island,” the Washington Post reports. “Although it was also announced by Bolton, that policy is likely to be far less popular among the Cuban community in Florida. A Treasury Department spokesman, while declining to address the specific issue of remittances, said additional Cuba regulations were expected in the coming months.”