USA tightens sanctions against Cuba

"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 in a statement Wednesday. Americans are banned from doing business with them - making travel even more complicated.

The US government has announced new restrictions against Cuba, tightening sanctions as part of President Donald Trump's pledge to roll back his Democratic predecessor's move towards warmer ties with Havana.

There was no immediate response to the new regulations from the Cuban government.

However, you can travel with an organization that is under US laws.

Obama said at the time of the detente he reached with Cuban President Raul Castro that he was trying a new approach to Cuba because decades of efforts by Washington to force change by isolating the island had not worked.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said the regulations were unfair to Cuba, coming as Trump was being "feted in Beijing" by a Communist government "in a country to which Americans can travel freely".

Travelers need to be able to show a "full-time schedule" with activities that support Cuban people and show "meaningful interaction", going beyond merely staying in rooms in private homes, eating in private restaurants, or shopping in private stores, an official told reporters on a conference call.

"They talk about supporting entrepreneurs and the private sector", said Laverty.

"The hypocrisy of the White House ideologues is glaring", Leahy said in a statement. The Commerce Department will simplify and expand a license that allows American companies to export certain consumer products to Cuba without asking for special permission from the USA government.

"He is putting us in serious danger by frightening away American visitors looking to rent our properties", said Norma Hernandez, who rents out rooms on Airbnb and who said her business flourished over the past year thanks to a surge in USA visitors.

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

Under the new rules, most individual visits to Cuba will no longer be allowed, and USA citizens will again have to travel as part of a licensed group, accompanied by a group representative.

The order restricts "people-to-people" visas, which in the past have made traveling to Cuba - located just 100 miles south of US shores - relatively simple. US government officials told The Associated Press that the restrictions aim to decrease American trade and commerce with businesses backed by the Cuban military.

President Barack Obama restored diplomatic ties with Havana in 2015 and issued regulatory changes that allowed increased commercial relations and expanded travel to Cuba.

President Trump argues under normalization the USA has given too many concessions to Cuba and gotten too few in return.

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