US doubles down on 60-year Cuba embargo

US doubles down on 60-year Cuba embargo

By Luke Vargas   
Published
Havana, Cuba. Flickr photo: Pedro Szekely
Havana, Cuba. Flickr photo: Pedro Szekely

Critics contend policies blocking US tourism and remittances from reaching the island will only decrease the chances of democratic change there.

UNITED NATIONS – The U.S. ratcheted up diplomatic pressure on Cuba on Wednesday, as the Trump Administration announced new limits on the amount of money Cuban-Americans can send back to the island and placed restrictions on budding U.S. tourism industry.

The Obama Administration had previously lifted a cap on remittances. Now, transfers will be capped at $4,000 a year per person.

In remarks in Miami defending the tightening of the U.S. embargo, National Security Advisor John Bolton criticized Obama for “[normalizing] relations with a tyrannical dictatorship.”

“We are also announcing that the Department of the Treasury will implement further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba…These new measures will steer American dollars away from the Cuban regime or its military and security services, who control the tourism industry.”

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“It’s really going to hurt.”

Vicki Huddleston served as America’s top diplomat in Havana during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and thinks policies that see less Americans visit Cuba and see fewer U.S. dollars reach the island are self-defeating.

“These are exactly the things that promote entrepreneurship and help Cubans have more economic freedom in their daily life. This is the kind of thing that promotes a harder line in Cuba and less likelihood of change. But Bolton’s belief has always been – and apparently Pompeo and Marco Rubio, too – that if they squeeze Cuba hard enough people will go out and demonstrate.”

If anything, Huddleston says the U.S. should expect to see its pressure campaign send Cubans to flee the country. This month alone, at least 40 Cubans were picked up fleeing en route to the U.S. by boat and hundreds more were found in a migrant caravan working its way through Central America last month.

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