Cruise ships forced to leave Cuba as Trump reimposes sanctions

The Department of the Treasury banned educational group travel, cruise ship stopovers, and private yacht visits by American citizens

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver
New York
Thursday 06 June 2019 16:05
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Cruising is the most popular form of travel for Americans going to Cuba
Cruising is the most popular form of travel for Americans going to Cuba

The final American cruise ship has set sail from Cuba after Donald Trump reimposed sanctions lifted by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Mr Trump aims to cut off the cash flow to the communist country by limiting the number of granted travel visas and ending cruise ship stopovers, saying it helps prop up Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

The Department of the Treasury banned educational group travel, cruise ship stopovers, and private yacht visits by American citizens, as those are the most common ways that Americans visit the island.

These sanctions may be a financially heavy hit on Cuba, which attracted over a quarter-million US visitors in the first four months of 2019, nearly double the figure from the previous year.

Both Cubans and Americans alike were shocked and upset by the policy change. “All this is so sad, really,” said Mario Diaz, a 19-year-old Cuban, “for Trump to come in and turn everything back from one day to the next.”

Some Americans were unaware that the policy was incoming. “Right or wrong, we know nothing about it as American citizens. It was a total surprise to us,” passenger Linda Mensure, from Texas, told AFP.

The Cruise Lines International Association said the new imposition of sanctions will affect nearly 800,000 American reservations that were already made or being finalised.

American tourism in Cuba had expanded due to an Obama-era initiative that relaxed a long-standing trade embargo against the communist regime in 2014.

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Some restrictions were upheld, keeping the interactions to cultural exchanges, artistic exchanges, and business dealings.

However, this policy was reversed by Mr Trump, who began restricting relations with Cuba soon after taking office.

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