Cuba sees new U.S. trade, travel restrictions as further setback in ties

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-09 12:19:28|Editor: Xiang Bo
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HAVANA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- New trade and travel restrictions announced by the United States in June represent a "further setback" in the Cuba-U.S. relations, a senior Cuban official said Wednesday.

"These measures confirm the serious setback registered in bilateral relations due to unilateral decisions adopted by the government of President Donald Trump," said Josefina Vidal, director general of U.S. affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

"The new regulations will not only harm the Cuban economy, including the private sector, but also U.S. citizens whose right to travel to Cuba is now even more restricted," she told a press conference.

Under the new rules, U.S. companies are prohibited from engaging in business with 179 Cuban businesses and departments, particularly those related to the military and the Interior Ministry.

Meanwhile, U.S. travellers to Cuba are mostly once again required to join organized tour groups run by U.S. companies. They are also banned from using service provided by Cuban hotels, shops and other businesses with a military background.

"The new rules will also affect U.S. entrepreneurs, who will lose interesting business opportunities in Cuba," said Vidal.

The Cuban official said Havana won't take any measures in retaliation, and will continue to work with the U.S. government although the U.S. measures make things more difficult.

According to the U.S. side, the measures are designed to steer the U.S. economic activity away from Cuba's military, intelligence and security services, which dominate part of the Cuban economy through state-controlled businesses.

"This is the old speech, trying to pressure the Cuban government into making changes they want to see. These old ways have never worked nor will they work in the future," said Vidal.

The stricter U.S. rules mark a return to the tougher U.S. stance against Cuba before former U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored bilateral diplomatic relations in 2015, according to Vidal.

Cuba-U.S. relations were also recently damaged by a diplomatic crisis stemming from U.S.-alleged sonic attacks harming the health of U.S. diplomats in Havana.

Washington has ordered the withdrawal of the majority of its diplomats in Havana, and issued a travel warning urging Americans not to visit the Caribbean island. Enditem