MIAMI – The Trump administration is banning U.S. flights to all Cuban cities besides Havana within the newest transfer to roll again the Obama-era easing of relations, officers stated Friday.
Supporters of the ban stated it could starve the Havana authorities of money and restrict its capacity to repress Cubans and assist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whom the U.S. needs to overthrow.
Opponents stated prohibiting flights would merely make it more durable for Cuban-Individuals to go to their households outdoors the capital, with out making a big affect on the Cuban authorities.
The State Division stated JetBlue flights to Santa Clara in central Cuba and the japanese cities of Holguin, Camaguey can be banned beginning in December. American Airways flights to Camaguey, Holguin and Santa Clara, the seaside resort of Varadero and the japanese metropolis of Santiago are additionally being banned.
Flights to Havana, which account for the nice majority of U.S. flights to Cuba, will stay authorized.
“This action will prevent the Castro regime from profiting from U.S. air travel and using the revenues to repress the Cuban people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated on Twitter. Raul Castro stepped down as president final yr however stays head of the Communist Occasion, the nation’s highest authority.
One other acknowledged motive for the transfer is to forestall tourism to Cuba, which is barred by U.S. regulation. But it’s not clear how many individuals take the banned flights for tourism functions. Many are utilized by Cuban-Individuals visiting family in cities removed from Havana by street.
“Eager to punish Cuba’s unbreakable defiance, imperialism is going after regular flights to various Cuban cities. It doesn’t matter that they’re affecting family relations, or the modest pocketbooks of most Cubans in both countries,” Carlos F. de Cossio, head of Cuba’s division of U.S. affairs, stated on Twitter. “Our response isn’t changing.”
Constitution flights to locations outdoors Havana are apparently not affected by the ban, however these flights have a tendency to be dearer and much much less handy. The opposite remaining authorized choice is a flight to Havana after which a street journey that would final as a lot as eight to greater than 12 hours over rutted, unsafe roads, within the case of Cuba’s japanese cities.
JetBlue and American issued temporary statements saying they’d adjust to the choice.
The announcement coincided with an occasion in Miami calling for regime change in Cuba and that includes U.S. officers, Group of Individuals States President Luis Almagro, and quite a lot of Cuban-Individuals and Cuban dissidents.
“This is a step forward,” stated Cuba-born barber Ernesto Regues, who stated he left the island in 2012 and nonetheless has household in Havana. “ow they need to stop the flights to Havana.”
Carrie Filipetti, deputy assistant secretary for Cuba and Venezuela within the State Division’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, stated Havana would function the gateway for Cuban-Individuals wanting to see their family.
“We want to make sure that Cuban-Americans do have a route to their families. You need to enter. Havana is currently carved out for this,” she stated.
She warned, nonetheless, that “we will continue to increase sanctions” and stated different nations ought to do the identical.
“It is a long path with many steps along the way,” she stated to a standing ovation.
Lourdes Diaz, a retired Cuban-American who arrived within the U.S. one yr after Castro’s Revolution, stated she disagrees with the present sanctions, feeling they assist Cuba’s communist authorities greater than damage it.
“The only thing that suffers is the people,” Diaz stated.
The Trump administration has been commonly tightening the six-decade-old embargo on Cuba in latest months with the acknowledged objective of reducing off earnings to the Cuban authorities and forcing it to minimize ties to Venezuela and grant extra human rights to Cuban residents. Washington has barred U.S. cruise ships visiting Cuba, sanctioned oil tankers transferring petroleum from Venezuela to Cuba and permitted lawsuits in opposition to overseas firms benefiting from their use of properties confiscated from Individuals or from Cubans who later obtained American citizenship.
The measures have contributed to the Cuban authorities’s power shortages of laborious forex and have been blamed for a number of weeks of gasoline shortages on the island, however thus far there isn’t a indication that the Trump coverage is having its desired impact. Cuba’s safety companies proceed to detain and harass dissenters and human rights teams say freedom of expression, meeting and different rights stay extremely curtailed.
The Cuban and Venezuelan authorities stay tightly aligned and each have declared their intent to develop into even nearer allies within the face of the Trump measures.