(TELESUR) – Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Wednesday rejected the new restrictions by the United States on cultural and educational trips to the island.
The new measures, which enter into force this Wednesday, will intensify the blockade and violate international law, the president said in a message on Twitter adding that Washington does not cease in its “perverse desire to bend Cuba.”
As of June 5, U.S. citizens will be prohibited from making group educational and cultural trips known as “people to people” travel to Cuba, Secretary of Commerce Steve Mnuchin of the U.S. Treasury Department confirmed in a statement Tuesday.
According to the commercial director at Cuba’s tourism ministry, Michel Bernal, the island nation received about 250,000 U.S. visitors in the first four months of 2019, which represented a 93.5 percent increase from the same period in 2018.
The U.S. administration will prohibit private and corporate planes, cruisers, sailboats, fishing boats, and similar boats from traveling to Cuba.
For the time being, commercial airline flights and travel for university groups, academic research, journalism, and professional meetings will continue to be allowed.
Mnuchin said the new restrictions are put in place to “destabilize” Cuba’s role in Latin America, especially its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
The U.S. supports opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido attempted to overthrow democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro on Jan 23. The North American country also supported coup attempts against President Maduro.
James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, an activist organization that seeks to end the 60-year old blockade, criticized the Trump administration of using Cuba as a political pawn and policing where Americans travel.
“Our core freedoms ought to no longer be held hostage by politicians for bare partisanship,” he said, adding that “Cubans should not be used as political pawns. They are human beings … As of late’s news is highly opposed for the Cuban folk, particularly the burgeoning Cuban personal sector, who rely on American vacationers to toughen their firms and families.”