US Bans Most Solo Travel to Cuba, Imposes Tighter Sanctions

Perhaps most important, they eliminate the individual people-to-people licenses that made it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba.

The package includes a blacklist of state-owned companies and entities, including shops and hotels.

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.

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.

The move comes after Trump in June ordered tighter restrictions against Cuba even as he left in place numerous changes former President Barack Obama made as part of his 2014 diplomatic breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes.

President Donald Trump signs his new Cuba policy at the Manuel Artime Theateron June 16, 2017 in Miami, where he unveiled the changes he's making to the Obama-era policies toward Cuba.

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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.

It is stunning", the Democratic senator said in a statement.

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 US citizens favor an end to the blockade.

USA tourists look at products inside the Cuban private design store Clandestina in Havana, Cuba, October 23, 2017. Administration officials said Wednesday that those actions were unrelated to the new regulations. But they do ban Americans from doing business with scores of companies with ties to Cuba's military or security apparatus. 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 US government.

The administration's policy change comes 20 months after Obama became the first sitting US president in almost a century to visit the island - part of numerous efforts his administration made to thaw relations between the United States and Cuba.

  • Adam Floyd