The rules that guide President Trump’s Cuba travel and trade regulations went into effect this November, clarifying guidelines about what is and isn’t allowed. While the Trump Administration has been adamant about discouraging travel and business to Cuba that would enhance the power of the communist dictatorship, the travel policies are largely consistent with the previous Administration.
Some of the changes include a list of 180 prohibited companies, hotels, and stores controlled by the Cuban military, forbidding any American citizen, firm, green card holder or person otherwise under US jurisdiction from carrying out any direct financial transaction with any entity on the list. Many hotels and some stores in the historic Old Havana neighborhood are on the prohibited list because they are Habaguanex (military brand) establishments. The chief managing officer of Cuba Travel Network has said many private businesses such as accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops are still available to US travelers.
President Trump has said the US will not lift sanctions on Cuba unless the government meets a series of benchmarks, including the release of political prisoners, free elections, and the legalization of political parties. Recent “sonic attacks” on American diplomats have increased tensions while the Cuban government denies responsibility for the attacks and the Trump Administration claims that Havana is ultimately responsible for ensuring diplomats’ safety. As a result, the US has withdrawn the majority of its embassy staff from Havana and ejected most Cuban diplomats from Washington.
Tensions have also been increasing between the US and North Korea as President Trump declared the US would designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Trump has also said the Treasury Department will announce additional sanctions on North Korea.
The president cited the regime’s nuclear weapons program, acts of international terrorism, and the death of 22-year-old student Otto Warmbier of Cincinnati for the intensified diplomatic actions, saying the terrorism designation “should have happened a long time ago.” North Korea and Cuba have been warming up their relationship as the Trump administration has pushed for increased isolation of the two countries. On November 17th, the Korean Central News Agency announced that North Korea would be sending its foreign minister to Cuba. North Korea is facing the possibility of further sanctions from the United Nations in response to the increased activity of its nuclear weapons program.