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New Travel Restrictions Will Make It Harder For Americans To Travel To Cuba

WASHINGTON (CBSLA/CNN) – It just got a little harder for U.S. citizens to take a trip to Cuba.

A little more than three years after former President Barack Obama made his historic trip to Cuba, the Trump administration Tuesday issued a rollback of sorts with major new travel restrictions for U.S. citizens hoping to visit the island nation.

Cuba tourists
Tourists walk along a street of Old Havana, on May 7, 2019. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it is halting authorization for popular group trips known as "people-to-people educational travel." It is also halting private and corporate planes and boats from traveling to Cuba.

The new restrictions will also prohibit cruise ship passengers whose trips are arranged as organized tours.

It's unclear how the new restrictions will impact U.S. airlines flying newly established routes to the island.

"It kills the people-to-people category, which is the most common way for the average American to travel to Cuba," Collin Laverty, head of Cuba Educational Travel, a Cuban travel agency, told the Associated Press.

The restrictions are in response to what the administration called Cuba's communist support for U.S. adversaries in Latin America.

"Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote in a statement. "This Administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services."

The regulations take effect Wednesday.

Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs, strongly criticized the new travel sanctions.

"I strongly reject new sanctions announced by #US vs. #Cuba which further restrict #US citizens' travels to Cuba, aimed at suffocating the economy & harming the living standards of Cubans in order to forcefully obtain political concessions," Parrilla wrote on Twitter. "Once again they will fail."

In April, the Trump administration announced plans to restrict travel to Cuba when White House national security adviser John Bolton said the Treasury Department would "implement further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba."

In December 2014, Mr. Obama announced that the U.S. would be taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba following about five decades of sanctions. The U.S. embassy in Cuba was officially reopened in July 2015 and commercial air travel was renewed in February of 2016.

For more details on the travel restrictions, click here.

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