Is Trump About To Reinstate The Embargo On Travel To Cuba?

Filed Under: Travel

Travel to Cuba got a lot easier last year as then President Obama relaxed the policies regarding who can visit the isolated country. That in turn caused a rush for airlines to apply for and then launch service across dozens of routes. The amount of lift into the country has been staggering, to the point that some airlines are already cutting back.

Technically you still can’t visit as a tourist, but instead your travel needs to fit into one of about twelve broad categories. That said, it’s pretty easy for anyone to claim they are “supporting the Cuban people” during a visit, so in practice there don’t seem to be many barriers. And indeed, thousands of Americans are visiting Cuba these days. Ben visited back in December, and had a very interesting experience.

But now it seems Trump may be ready to undo these changes.

A reinstatement of the Cuban travel embargo?

But now The Daily Caller is reporting that President Trump may be set to announce a roll back of Obama’s policies. Apparently the administration has been working since February to review the Cuban policies at the urging of Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, and  Representative Mario Diaz-Balart:

His administration launched a “full review” of Cuban policy, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer told TheDC Sunday that there “are no updates on this issue at this time.”

Rubio and Rep. Diaz-Balart, however, have been publicly confident that Trump will bring back hardline policies against Cuba. The National Journal reported Wednesday that Diaz-Balart said he is “1,000 percent sure the president is going to deliver on his commitment.”

Supposedly the new policy could be announced as early as June during a Trump speech in Miami. That said, the Trump administration denies all of this.

My Cuban travel plans

I actually have plans to visit Cuba next month with a good friend, in celebration of my upcoming “round birthday.” I figured it would be a good opportunity to go somewhere off the beaten path where I’d be unlikely to take my family. And of course, I figured it would make for an interesting trip report, especially as we’re planning to stay in a Cuban casa that we found on Airbnb, rather than the Four Points by Sheraton like Ben.

Hopefully we’ll get in and out before any changes are made.

Bottom Line

The Daily Caller is reporting that the Trump administration is on the verge of reinstating the Cuban travel embargo and that an announcement could come as early as June. Of course we’re also still waiting for an announcement regarding the laptop ban on flights originating in Europe — or possibly from the US too — and his other travel ban has plenty of its own issues. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what comes of this.

With tickets already booked to Cuba for next month, I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on the situation.

What do you make of the possibility of Trump reinstating a Cuban travel embargo?

(Hat Tip Boston Ben)

  1. Travis, Mario Diaz-Balart is a U.S. Representative, not a Senator. Your series seems to imply that he is.

    I would say I am shocked by this development, but I’m not really surprised by anything else coming from this administration anymore. Just another return to failed policies of the past.

  2. Oh well…. better visit middle east as soon as practicable then. After electronic ban, visiting ban may follow…..

  3. I finally get it! This is what they mean by “transactional foreign policy”.

    “Mr President, you reinstate an ideological policy that makes our donors happy and we’ll support your plan to do _____ that benefits you personally.” said Senators Rubio and Menendez and Representative Diaz-Balart.

  4. I guess Trump got pissed off because he saw progress, and is striving to work on that. Sigh.

  5. Airlines are canceling flights to Cuba lien everyday. There is not much interest to go to Cuba….to expensive for what it is…

  6. I wouldn’t put much stock into this report. The Daily Caller is a radical right-wing hate site that publishes any lie or innuendo that fits its agenda.

  7. Whoa, citing the Daily Caller?! I like it. They’ve written some good articles about the Awan brothers.

  8. Anything is possible with the current “management” in Washington. With travel bans coming and going, laptop insanity, etc… anything can happen.

    Meanwhile, this is causing millions of $$ in lost travel. NYC is forecasting a loss of $120million in tourism this year. Good job Washington.

    A real loss of jobs to America.

  9. @gary – how do you separate the drop in tourism $$ as a result of the “laptop ban” vs. the stronger dollar making trips to the USA more expensive for everyone else in the world?

  10. A laptop ban would have nothing to do with my visiting or not visiting New York…not much could make me want to visit there….horrible mayor and refuse to give the city any of my money.

  11. @brian the value of the US dollar has actually gone down since January so if the drop in tourism was because of a stronger dollar we would have seen a similar drop last year. It turns out when your president campaigns on a promise to ban muslims (and yes he said the words muslim ban it’s not just fake news and preaches isolationism and protectionism, the amount of people who will want to come to your country will drop (especially from Europe which tends to be more liberal than the US).

  12. I still don’t get how someone can be pro-growth and restrict foreign visitors. Isn’t tourism a decent chunk of the American economy. Won’t placing restrictions on foreign visitors coming to the US and US visitors going to other countries limit these industries significantly and lead to many job losses? I’m not sure if these stats are correct, but it seems like tourism could be about 8% of the US economy ($1.5T out of $18T). If tourism is down by 12%, that shaves off a percentage point from the US economy.

  13. Mentioning Trump so many times in your article, then accurately stating, “…at the urging of Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart:” in the middle shows political bias that most won’t pick up on.

  14. I’d be OK with opening Cuba up as soon as they stop the communist oppressive policies and give back all the property that they seized during the revolution. I know this was a long time ago but it doesn’t change the facts.

  15. Visiting Cuba seems like a bad idea. Especially based on Luckys review. I want to visit a place that helps the local citizens and economy. Visiting Cuba seems to only help the government and provide less food to Cubans bc they need to provide it to tourists.

  16. The Europeans would be thrilled if the gringos stopped going … they believe the gringos have ruined the fun (=AirBnB availability) for the rest of the world.

    Of course Trump further destroying tourism and the US airlines’ revenue models (did you notice how many summer transatlantic routes are still at $400 r/t!) wouldn’t be surprising. These are the most hapless morons ever.

  17. I went in January . .while glad I went don’t need to go back, also I’m getting denied Global Entry as a result of the visit. Didn’t use a tour group and booked our own accommodations (AirBnb) and tours while there, frustrating but not the end of the world. Cuba has a looooong way to go before it’s a place I would visit again.

  18. I thought the failed policy of the past was communism. Aren’t people still trying to get out of that joint? Was amazed that Obama tipped his hat to the Castro brothers just to be treated terribly. The possible Trump admin is to be admired.

  19. Hey Travis, can you deliver at least one post that doesn’t focus on telling us all about the evil of the President Trump? It got real boring over past few weeks

  20. @Jim It is highly relevant if he is closing off our ability to visit a country. Trump’s foreign policy seems to be based in bigotry and ignorance. Then again this is the same administration that wants to allow insurance companies to take people with pre-existing conditions and jack up the price to a point where many won’t be able to afford the coverage.

  21. @Al

    You state that the US dollar has become weaker in the recent past. Perhaps you could explain to me “against what currency?”

    Your largest tourism partner is Canada and recently (April 30) I was paying $1.42 Cdn for each $1 USD.

    A few years ago it was on par 1-1

    There are perhaps more reasons not to visit the US currently, but a US Dollar trading at $1.42 Cdn is a very very large incentive not to cross the border (South).

    On the other hand, this means the the Canadian dollar is only $0.70 US. So why don’t you bring your dollars here and spend them frivolously – we could use the extra income ;-). Forget Cuba, the only thing good there is Rum and I prefer Old Monk from India any day.

  22. @DaninMCI
    “I’d be OK with opening Cuba up as soon as they stop the communist oppressive policies and give back all the property that they seized during the revolution. I know this was a long time ago but it doesn’t change the facts.”

    Thank God that at last someone is brave enough to stand up for the rights of organised crime!

    All those Chicago, New York and Miami mobsters who invested in Cuban casinos, resorts and brothels deserve the same property rights as anyone else – they worked hard for that money, damnit, and we should keep punishing Cuban children today until those wizened old gangsters get back every last dime.

    Damn it: it’s the Murican Way.

    (Same principle does NOT apply to Native Americans, of course, since that’s obviously Completely Different as any fule no.)

  23. I have been to Cuba four times, beginning in 2013. Over the last four years, and especially in the last two, I have witnessed a steady improvement in the lives of Cubans, in almost every way. There is more food in stores (I’m referring to bodegas where everyday Cubans shop), as well as more medicines in pharmacies. Tourism is helping Cubans, at every level. I did not speak to a single Cuban (and I make it a point to speak to Cubans of every stripe) who thought that tourism was bad for the country. Increasingly, Cubans are engaging in an incipient entrepreneurialism that, along with remittances from abroad, puts hard currency in more and more Cubans’ hands, which translates to a measurable improvement in their lives. Hard currency (the CUC which tourists must use) does trickle down to the average Cuban. The return to old policies will have a measurable impact on Cubans, and it will not be good. It certainly will not lead to an overthrow of the regime; it will, however, make the old Cuban-American guard feel better since, let’s be honest, this is more about them than about Cuba or Cubans.

  24. Was just in Cuba over the weekend, and it is very inexpensive there, not expensive as some of these posts suggest.,…..

  25. @GeorgeB

    My experience with cuba isn’t necessarily a lack of hard currency. It’s a lack of things to buy with that hard currency.

  26. I will be heartbroken. I finally get the chance to visit my family’s country in July.

  27. I visited Havana in 2000. The city, as beautiful as it is was propped up with sticks and crumbling at a fast rate. But the people were educated and healthy. Nobody appeared to be starving. There was no one begging on the streets. Most appeared to have a job. Unlike their homes, the schools and hospitals were very well maintained and all looked to be run very efficiently. Compared to the rest of South America I thought the people of Cuba were lucky. They had the two most important things in life – health and education.

  28. I think for the ppl who travel a lot, Cuba should be on the list, if only b/c it could be closed again, not b/c there is all that much interesting to see. For those that don’t travel every year or even every other year, Cuba is a waste. The constant hawking and overcharging of tourists was rampant when I visited last month. While only there a few days, we saw a (relatively) lot of ppl in casts, using crutches, sprained ankles, bloodied faces, etc b/c of the poor condition of the streets, sidewalks, etc. Havana, in general, is dilapidated. The tourist areas are marginally better, but OSHA would shut the whole place down w/o a thought. The CONSTANT grift by the cuban ppl just got to be too much. From purposely dropping us at the wrong terminal at the airport and charging 10x the cost to get to the other terminal ~1.5km away…it was clear they existed to extort the tourists.

    Add in the 10% nick to USD or even CAD (when they see a US passport), the island that is suppose to be “cheap”, quickly becomes expensive. Especially so when you consider the overall slum living standards you walk around in, or greatly overpriced halfway-decent hotels.

    I’m glad I went, if only b/c it was so forbidden in the past. Moreso when Donny shuts it down again. Too bad for the Cuban ppl, it’s no wonder they’re milking the tourist $$ while they can.

  29. You should be ashamed of yourself for this post.
    The Daily Caller is a ultra-right wing website full of lies.
    I would strongly suggest this post be removed.

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