U.S. administration publishes new Cuba travel restrictions

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum vowing to crack down on travel to Cuba in June when he appeared in a theater in Miami's Little Havana to thank Cuban American supporters

Tighter restrictions on U.S. travellers to Cuba will go into effect on Thursday, officials said, nearly five months after President Donald Trump vowed to crack down.

The banned businesses - posted Wednesday on the State Department's Cuba Restricted List - include mostly government-linked holding companies and subsidiaries, but also dozens hotels and shops across the island.

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.

In terms of travels, non-academic individual trips will not be authorized and USA citizens traveling to Cuba under the auspices of an organization must be accompanied by a representative of the group, among other restrictions. 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.

In June, Trump announced he would be rolling back some of the changes made by his predecessor, Barack Obama, who sought in his second term to restore diplomatic relations with the island nation.

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin laid out the new rules, which will take effect on Thursday.

The tighter regulations were met with criticism by Senator Patrick Leahy, who said they are "what one would expect of a paranoid totalitarian government, not a democracy like ours".

The US Treasury said the measures are created to steer American travellers away from Cuban firms tied to the military and towards the communist island's fledgling private sector.

Business agreements and "people-to-people" travel arrangements made before Trump announced his new Cuba policy in June were excepted from the new rules. The organization has holdings in Cuba's hotel, rental vehicle, taxi and tour bus, convenience store and port logistics industries.

US airlines and cruise ships will continue to operate in Cuba under the new regulations. American tourists typically stay at hotels not included on the Cuba Restricted List, and US -based flights and cruises are exempted from the regulations. Wednesday his administration released its new Cuba regulations - and ironically, private Cuban entrepreneurs may get hit worst.

Although the amount of trade under the Obama changes has not expanded as much as anticipated, a number of US business and agricultural entities have sought contracts in Cuba.

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