Thousands of Americans who booked trips to Cuba now must change their plans, due to new travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.
On June 4, the U.S. State Department announced that Americans can no longer visit Cuba by boat or plane. The ban includes “people-to-people” trips for educational and cultural exchanges, which many Americans used to justify travel to the country. The ban went into effect on June 5, leaving cruise lines like Royal Caribbean scrambling to reroute ships that were scheduling to stop in Cuba this week.
The Trump administration says the ban is a response to the Cuban government’s support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and its continued repression of Cuban citizens.
“Veiled tourism has served to line the pockets of the Cuban military, the very same people supporting Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and repressing the Cuban people,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
The new restrictions are part of a broader move to roll back Obama’s push to heal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Cuba says more than 257,000 Americans visited the island between January and March 2019, more than half of whom arrived on cruise ships.
Cuba’s Foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez criticized the ban, saying it would hurt the Cuban people and economy.