Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said the United States is trying to wrest political concessions from Cuba by economically harming the country. File Photo by Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA EFE
June 4 (UPI) -- The United States further tightened travel restrictions to Cuba on Tuesday by limiting some group travel to the island nation along with travel by private vessels like cruise ships, the Treasury Department announced.
The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would no longer allow a type of educational travel known as people-to-people. It's a form of group travel that many Americans use to visit Cuba, even before the Obama administration began normalizing relations with the country.
The OFAC said it would still permit groups who have made at least some reservations before Tuesday to carry out their planned travel going forward.
Additionally, U.S. cruise ships are banned from stopping in Cuba as well as other travel by private or corporate vessels like yachts or aircraft. Commercial air flights are still permitted to fly to the island nation.
The Trump administration said it is reversing the loosening of restrictions that came about under former President Barack Obama in order to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of the Cuban government.
"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," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said he rejects the new sanctions against Cuba, which he described as a "blockade."
"They intend to suffocate the economy and damage the standard of living of Cubans to wrest political concessions from us," he tweeted. They will fail again."
In April, the Treasury Department said Americans may only travel to Cuba for family visits and limited the amount of money Americans may send to family members in the Caribbean nations to $1,000 per person every three months. The administration also canceled an agreement that would have allowed Cuban baseball players to play in Major League Baseball.
In March, the State Department said it planned to reduce B2 tourist visa validity for Cuban nationals to three months with a single entry, down from five years of multiple entries.