Tourism Spike to Cuba May Suffer as Trump Moves to Toughen Blockade

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 19, 2017

White House says President Donald Trump plans to announce a revised Cuba policy that's aimed at stopping the flow of USA cash to the country's military and security services.

Taking a tougher approach against Cuba after promising to do so during the presidential campaign, Trump will make clear that a ban on USA tourism to Cuba remains in effect and his administration will beef up enforcement of travel rules under authorized categories, the officials said.

However, travel to and from Cuba will now be more tightly monitored, whilst businesses will be restricted from doing trade that could benefit Cuban military and intelligence organizations. This will essentially shield USA airlines and cruise-ship companies now serving the island.

Marriott, the world's biggest hotel chain operator, runs the military-owned Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel under its Four Points Sheraton brand. Airbnb recently reported that in just over two years, Cubans have earned almost $40 million by hosting tourists in their homes.

However, these numbers still fall short of U.S. Airlines' expectations, who invested liberally following the promise of potential profits. It also won't change the status of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.

They watched. almost two years ago, then-U.S. President Barack Obama pursued, and secured, a thaw in relations with its longtime nemesis Cuba and the Castro government. Trump's policy also will not reinstate the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which allowed any Cuban who made it to US soil to stay and become a legal resident. In the two and a half years since the Obama administration announced the thaw, which we applauded - and still do - the United States has made most of the concessions, while Cuban president Raúl Castro given very little, especially in the realm of human rights, in return. Politico.com reported that Trump´s administration will request a full schedule of activities to be conducted in Cuba by the USA citizens who be authorized to visit the island.

It is notable, however, that Trump's administration is taking a stand against Cuba's human rights abuses when it has made a habit of glossing over the same concerns with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. Marco Rubio and Mario Diaz-Balart, both of whom wanted stiffer sanctions on the Castro government.

Nothing will go into effect immediately: White House officials said Trump will direct the secretaries of commerce and Treasury to revise the regulations, and nothing will go into effect until those regulations are promulgated. No deadline has been set, the officials said.

Last year more than 600,000 Americans traveled to Cuba, about 74 percent more than the year before.

In a Thursday briefing call, reporters pressed officials on why the Trump administration is emphasizing Cuba's human rights issues when the White House has previously demonstrated interest in working with other problematic regimes.

The new rules would still allow other forms of travel, including family visits, and would not prohibit visits by cruise ships or commercial flights, administration officials said.

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