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DOT Puts Further Restrictions on Travel to Cuba

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has put even more restrictions on American travel to Cuba.

The agency, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has halted all charter flights between the United States and Cuban destinations other than Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

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The DOT will also cap the number of public charter flights to Havana.

The moves come a month after President Trump banned commercial flights to Cuban destinations other than Havana.

“Today, at my request, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) suspended until further notice all public charter flights between the United States and Cuban destinations other than Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Nine Cuban airports currently receiving U.S. public charter flights will be affected,” Pompeo said in a statement. “Public charter flight operators will have a 60-day wind-down period to discontinue all affected flights. Also, at my request, DOT will impose an appropriate cap on the number of permitted public charter flights to José Martí International Airport. DOT will issue an order in the near future proposing procedures for implementing the cap.”

Pompeo said the action will prevent Cuba from benefiting of further revenue which, the Secretary said, the government uses for “ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its unconscionable support for dictator Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. In suspending public charter flights to these nine Cuban airports, the United States further impedes the Cuban regime from gaining access to hard currency from U.S. travelers.”

The move is causing much consternation among tour operators.

In a press release Friday, tour operator Cuba Educational Travel (CET) called the policy change “another step backwards, negatively affecting Cubans on the island and their families in the U.S.”

“Canceling these flights might take cents out of Cuban government accounts, but it takes dollars out of Cuban pockets, food off the table of Cuban families and once again tries to divide the Cuban family for domestic political gains,” said CET president Collin Laverty.

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