USA presented on Tuesday new media to penalize the growing tourism industry in Cuba: the Treasury Department announced the elimination of licenses for cruises that visit the island and for educational group trips, in addition to other restrictions, such as trips by private plane.
In the diplomatic opening promoted by Barack Obama at the end of his second presidency, conventional tourism was not allowed to the Caribbean island, but he did open his hand to some types of travel that have triggered the presence of Americans in Cuban territory in the last years.
Steve Mnuchin, secretary of the Treasury, said that Cuba continues to play "a destabilizing role" in the region, turned into a "communist enclave" that supports "US adversaries. in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua, fomenting instability, contravening the law and attacking the democratic processes ».
For the Trump Administration, the dollars that American tourists leave in Cuba in exchange for roasting on their beaches or drinking mojitos in the colonial streets of Havana only benefit "the Cuban regime and its military and security services, which control the industry of the tourism". At a time when Washington is trying to use all diplomatic channels to force Nicolás Maduro out of power in Venezuela, the measure closes an important economic tap to the Cuban dictatorship, the main support of the Chavez regime in the region.
The new restrictions do not affect family visits and other types of travel that remain legal, such as academic exchanges, and commercial flights will continue to function for those purposes. But the decision cuts the expansion of Cuba's growing tourist industry, driven by the recent invasion of Americans. Last year, 639,000 Americans visited the island and there were already 257,000 in the first four months of this year. Many of them went on group trips and cruises. The popularity of these last ones grew of exponential form: whereas in the four first of 2018 40,000 Americans arrived at Cuba in cruise, in the same period of this year already they were 142,000. In a short time, USA it had become the second country to visit Cuba, only behind Canada and a key factor for the flourishing private sector of tourism that the Cuban regime had allowed to grow: small hotels, taxi drivers and private restaurants. "This is the coup de grace to American tourism in Cuba," Ted Henken, an expert at Baruch College in New York, told The Wall Street Journal. According to their analysis, half of the 600,000 Cubans who have private licenses to work are related to the tourism sector.
"Under the previous administration too many concessions were made to one of our most aggressive adversaries," said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. "Cuba continues to support the illegitimate regime of Maduro in Venezuela and will be held responsible for this crisis," said national security adviser John Bolton.
The restrictions are the latest in a battery of measures approved by Trump to stifle the Cuban regime since he arrived at the White House: limited the sending of remittances, restricted the presence of US companies on the island, opened the possibility of suing companies with interests in properties confiscated by the Cuban revolution -which can affect Spanish companies- and, now, minimizes the possibilities of travel as a tourist. .