President Trump on Friday will speak at Manuel Artime Theater in Miami — named for the leader of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba — and announce a rollback of President Obama’s liberalization of relations with the island nation.
Politico reports that the policy outlined will be
clearly banning tourist travel to the island, restating the importance of the 56-year-old trade embargo with the island and instituting a broad prohibition on financial transactions with companies significantly controlled by the Communist government’s military
Fishing on the Malecón in Havana
While financial transactions — perhaps such as US management of hotels largely owned by the government — will be banned, that won’t happen right away.
The President’s “directive instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to consult with the Commerce Department to promulgate new rules 90 days” from tomorrow’s announcement. The Four Points by Sheraton Havana is owned by Gaviota, which is the tourism arm of the Cuban military’s business entity and any deal between Marriott (which owns Starwood) and Gaviota is expected to be banned.
Sign in support of the 1960s revolution
Tourist travel will face significant new hurdles. Tourism is still largely banned, but the ban has been completely overlooked under Obama administration policy. There are certain categories of travel which are permitted with most tourists traveling under “people to people exchange,” a type of educational visit.
The administration will:
- require a full-time schedule of activities which will “enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities” and also require that “the travel must result in a meaningful interaction” with Cuban people.
- require travelers to keep detailed records of every financial transaction in Cuba for 5 years
- direct the Department of the Treasure to audit Cuba travel to ensure people follow rules strictly.
Anyone traveling to Cuba will not be permitted to engage in financial transactions with businesses controlled by the Cuban military. Many hotels will thus be off limits, and some restaurants too. (This is good news in a way for Airbnb.)
Typical breakfast at a casa particular
Americans will still be able to create schedules which comply with these rules, taking great care to avoid expenditures with institutions linked to the government. But the record keeping and audit threats will scare away many who might have considered trying.
Airlines are going to be faced with additional cutbacks in their Cuba schedule. They have already been losing large amounts of money flying to Cuba as it is and as seemed obvious from the start that they would with largely leisure travel originating in the U.S. and very little demand originating in Cuba along with limited tourism infrastructure in the country. However carriers wanted to establish their foothold using limited flight authorities and prevent competitors from doing the same. This new policy will mean even lighter loads and weaker yields.