International & Antiwar News

TRUMP TIGHTENS U.S. BLOCKADE OF CUBA

Originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 59, printed August 23. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Summer 2019 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

The U.S. Treasury has announced new regulations governing licensed travel to Cuba from the U.S. 

At the core of the June 4 announcement was that, effective immediately, U.S. cruise ships could no longer visit Cuba, and that the most popular category of licensed group travel, called People to People, also would be scrapped, except for travel bookings that were already confirmed. 

The goal of these measures is to do the maximum possible damage to the Cuban economy, in line with the dominant strategy towards Cuba that Washington has followed since 1961: to grind down the Cuban people in the belief that eventually they will rise up against their own government. The strategy has always failed, but the economic damage it does is real. 

Despite the new restrictions, it’s still possible to travel to Cuba. U.S. citizens with family in Cuba remain free to go, and all the 12 categories of licensed travel to Cuba remain in place, such as religious, academic and student travel. 

The rest of the world can freely travel to Cuba, but U.S. citizens have a much harder time – not because of Cuba, but because of their own government. To remove all restrictions on travel to Cuba would require an Act of Congress. 

One such bill was introduced in both houses in the 2017-18 Congress. The bipartisan bill in the Senate had 55 signatories – a majority – but the Republican leadership would not allow a vote.

In response to the new travel restrictions, the Cuban government issued a statement that said it “… condemns in the strongest terms the measures announced by the United States Government on 4 June 2019, further tightening the economic blockade imposed on Cuba for over 60 years …. 

“The intent continues to be to extract political concessions from the Cuban nation through suffocation of the economy and hurting the population. In this particular case, these measures are also aimed at preventing the American people from knowing the Cuban reality thus bringing down the effects of the slanderous propaganda that is fabricated on a daily basis against our country. 

“Such actions disregard the majority view of Americans, whose interest to know Cuba and exercise their right to travel was proved by the 650 thousand US travelers who came in 2018, together with half a million Cubans residing in the United States.” 

For information on traveling to Cuba, contact the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization.

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