U.S. bans private vessels from traveling to Cuba

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U.S.-flagged private yachts and cruise ships are banned from traveling to Cuba.

U.S.-flagged private yachts and cruise ships are banned from traveling to Cuba.

On Tuesday, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations to implement President Trump’s foreign policy on Cuba. As a result, cruise ships and recreational boats are banned from traveling to Cuba under the “Group People-To-People Travel” proviso.

In a statement, OFAC said it is “amending the regulations to remove the authorization for group people-to-people educational travel.” The regulatory changes include a grandfathering provision that provides that certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorized will be allowed where the traveler had already completed at least one travel-related transaction including purchasing a flight or reserving accommodations prior to June 5. Travel-related transactions are still permitted by general licenses for some travel categories and authorized export transactions.

The statement also said that passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft are ineligible for a license exemption and has established “a general policy of denial for license applications involving those vessels and aircraft.”

The NMMA said it does not have a position on travel to and from Cuba because of the political complexities, but that vessel travel should generally have “parity in treatment” with air travel.

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement, “Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law and suppressing democratic processes.”

He continued, “This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuba regime. These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services.”

The actions mark a continued commitment toward implementing the National Security Presidential Memorandum signed by the president on June 16, 2017 titled “Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba.” The administration says the policies continue towkr to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence and security services. The changes will take effect on June 5 when the regulations are published in the Federal Register.