Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had asked transport secretary Elaine Chao to suspend all scheduled air travel to “prevent the Castro regime from profiting from U.S air travel, and using the revenues to repress Cuban people.” Another reason given for the ban is to prevent American tourism in Cuba, which is currently banned under American law. In June, the State Department also banned cruise ships from making stops in the country.
The US Department of State regularly updates a list of Cuban businesses which Americans are forbidden from spending money at.
This includes companies believed to be under the control of, or acting on behalf of the Cuban military.
However, opponents of the ban said it would make it more difficult for Cuban-Americans to visit family who live far from Havana and travel by road.
One Cuban national wrote on Twitter: “Donald Trump suspended the AA flights to Cuba. Because of that, my unborn child won’t know his grandparents living in the US.”
Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez also condemned restrictions on Twitter saying they would unnecessarily disrupt travel but he warned they would not compel Cuba to make any concessions.
A week ago, the Commerce Department revoked existing licenses for aircraft leases to Cuban state-owned airlines and said it would deny future applications for aircraft leases.
The US also said it would expand sanctions to include more foreign goods that are made of American content.
Last month Mr Pompeo instituted a travel ban on the family of communist party leader Raul Castro.
Speaking at the time, he said: “The Cuban regime’s disregard for human rights and use of violence to prop up the former Maduro regime are responsible for the ongoing crises in Cuba and Venezuela.”
The Cuban regime is heavily allied with Venezuelan dictator Nicola Maduro.
The government has said around 20,000 Cuban troops and agents have been working in Venezuela to protect Maduro’s government.
Mr Pompeo said: “Castro is complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy and triggering the hemisphere’s largest humanitarian crisis, forcing 15 percent of the Venezuelan population to flee the country and precipitating a food shortage and health crisis of unprecedented scale in this region.”
President Trump, in a speech at the United Nations last month, called the Venezuelan leader a “Cuban puppet.”
He said: “The dictator Maduro is a Cuban puppet, protected by Cuban bodyguards, hiding from his own people, while Cubans plunder Venezuela’s oil wealth to sustain its own corrupt communist rule.”
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