Trump bans American travel to Cuba; it’s the Cuban people who will suffer.
Earlier this week I wrote about the impending reversal of course on the Obama administration’s easing of restrictions on the ability of US citizens to travel to Cuba.
Today, it’s been announced that the restrictions will indeed go back into effect, requiring Americans that do travel to Cuba to keep records for 5 years to certify how their trip fit into a legally allowed designation. An important except from the CNN article: “a change would make Americans who travel under the Obama administration categories of permitted travel subject to a Treasury Department audit, a move that could have a cooling effect on travel as it adds a potential layer of inconvenience to travelers.”
The legally allowed designations can be found here.
Trump says “We will enforce the ban on tourism!“
It is clear that no new business will be allowed to take place with American companies and the Cuban government. It would seem, though, that hotels already built will be allowed to remain. I’m not 100% clear on that. That does effect companies like Starwood/Marriott that have already bought/built hotels on the island.
Interestingly, there are no new restrictions on exports, meaning you can still bring back up to $100 in rum/cigars if you go legally.
Now, none of this new policy takes effect immediately and it’s unclear when it will exactly. I’m not even sure yet what advice to give on travel except to say that it would appear that you will need to be careful to certify yourself under one of the above categories and be sure to keep your documentation for 5 years. We have no idea what enforcement nor penalties might look like.
This is a shame for so many reasons. As someone that went on a group trip early last year, after the Obama easement but before commercial airlines were allowed to fly, I had the great honor of visiting a Cuba that was on the cusp of its citizens finally being able to work their way to a better life.
I saw the entrepreneurial spirit everywhere I went and spoke with locals about the impact even the small numbers of Americans starting to visit the island meant to them. And to them it meant a world of new opportunity.
Let’s not talk politics here, although I do find it interesting that Trump insists that we will force Cube to hold open elections.
Let’s talk people.
This is a huge step backwards for everyone because the tourism dollars are a major part of what is helping to line the pockets of entrepreneurs in Cuba. Tour guides, snack and souvenir merchants, taxi drivers are the people that will get hurt by this. And when I visited I was taken aback by how warm, friendly, and optimistic these folks were.
Have you been to Cuba? If not, do you still plan to go amidst this new uncertainty?