American citizens looking to travel to Cuba may rethink their vacation choice, thanks to a list of travel restrictions and sanctions announced Wednesday by the Trump administration.
The State Department has also published a list of 180 entities including hotels, stores, rum makers, marinas and a economic development zone at the Port of Mariel, which are believed to financially benefit the Cuban military, intelligence and security services and which USA citizens will no longer be permitted to frequent.
Those traveling to support the Cuban people need to have a full-time schedule of activities that show contact with the Cuban people, support for civil society and promote Cubans' independence from Cuban authorities.
The new rules "are meant to steer economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence and security services ... and encourage the government to move toward greater economic freedom" for the Cuban people, according to a senior administration official, one of several authorized by the White House to brief reporters on the changes on condition of anonymity.
The announcement of the restrictions was made at a time when several economic, academic and business sectors in the United States are interested in expanding their ties with Cuba and when surveys show that most USA citizens favor an end to the blockade.
The changes take effect Thursday.
Such measures entail changes in the program of sanctions against Cuba that was announced by the Republican president in June, when he chose to roll back several steps on Cuba taken his predecessor, Barack Obama (2009-2017).
"The hypocrisy of the White House ideologues is glaring".
There was no immediate response to the new regulations from the Cuban government.
The rules come amid deep strains in the U.S. -Cuba relationship stemming from invisible, unexplained attacks that have harmed more than two dozen U.S. government personnel in Havana since 2016. But they do ban Americans from doing business with scores of companies with ties to Cuba's military or security apparatus.
Some exceptions will accommodate Americans who already plan to visit Cuba.
The U.S. Treasury, State and Commerce Departments spent the last few months since Trump's announcement preparing the regulations.
The Cuban hotels listed included those run by military-linked chains Gaviota and Habaguanex.
The list of entities that Americans can not do business with includes a special development zone at Cuba's Mariel port, which Cuba hopes to develop into a major Caribbean industrial and shipping hub with tax and customs breaks. Officials said they would use information obtained from several USA agencies to catch violators, who could be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution.
Blacklisted hotels include the Manzana Kempinski, which opened with great fanfare this year as Cuba's first to meet the global five-star standard.
Hotels, stores, marinas, tourist agencies, industries are also on the list - including government-owned rum makers Ron Caney and Ron Varadero.