Trump Bans Tourism To Cuba Citing Raul Castro’s Support Of Venezuelan Strongman Nicolás Maduro
In response to the Cuban government’s continued support of Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro, President Donald Trump renewed sanctions preventing U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba as tourists. Beginning Wednesday, June 5, American citizens will no longer be able to buy tickets to visit the Caribbean country.
The official reason for this ban is to prevent the dollars of American tourists from being used by the Cuban government to support their socialist ally, Maduro. Cuba and Venezuela have historically been very close, so when the Head of the National Assembly in Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, proclaimed himself president, the Cuban government continued to support their old friend Maduro. The United States, as do most countries, supports Guaidó, as Maduro is thought to have rigged the most recent election in his favor. The Trump Administration hopes that by crippling the Cuban economy it will halt the flow of funds to Maduro, forcing him into submission. “The United States holds the Cuban regime accountable for its repression of the Cuban people, its interference in Venezuela, and its direct role in the man-made crisis led by Nicolas Maduro,” the State Department said in a news release. While the government has so far only used peaceful measures against Venezuela, there are hints that military intervention is being considered.
Cuba has continued to prop up the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela and will be held responsible for this ongoing man-made crisis. President Trump has made it clear that we stand with the Cuban and Venezuelan people as they fight for freedom.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) June 4, 2019
These new restrictions are a return to pre-2016 regulations regarding Cuban tourism. President Barack Obama lifted the travel ban on the island nation in 2016, creating a brief period of friendly cooperation between Cuba and America. The proximity of Cuba to continental North America made it a prime vacationing spot, leading to a boom in the cruise ship industry, with over 100,000 people traveling to the Latin American country by boat in the first four months of 2019 alone. The new restrictions include a ban on cruise ship travel, however, which is sure to decimate this industry.
Members of the Trump Administration have been critical of Obama’s lifting of sanctions for years, angry that good American money was going into the pockets of a country they viewed as undemocratic and antagonistic to the United States. With the Castro legacy still going strong in the form of Raul Castro, many GOP leaders want to force the communist country to reform itself into a more America-friendly country. Many see the new U.S. restrictions on Cuban tourism as partially a way to pressure the Castro government into instituting widespread governmental changes.
The people of Cuba have struggled too long. Will reverse Obama's Executive Orders and concessions towards Cuba until freedoms are restored.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2016
In addition to viewing the new travel restrictions as an attempt to harm the Castro regime, many political strategists have accused Trump of pandering to anti-Castro Cubans in Florida whose ancestors were ousted by previous Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Because Florida is a key swing state, it is possible that the president is attempting to curry favor with the voters there in order to help his 2020 bid for reelection.