The U.S. government on Friday, Oct. 25, said it would suspend U.S. airlines from traveling to all destinations in Cuba apart from Havana beginning on Dec. 10 as the Trump administration is increasing pressure on the Cuban government.
The U.S. Transportation Department said in a notice it was taking the action at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “further the administration’s policy of strengthening the economic consequences to the Cuban regime for its ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its support for Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.”
Today, I asked @SecElaineChao to suspend scheduled air service between the U.S. and all Cuban airports, except Havana’s Jose Martí Airport. This action will prevent the Castro regime from profiting from U.S. air travel and using the revenues to repress the #Cuban people.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 25, 2019
The step would restrict flights from U.S. air carriers to any of Cuba’s nine international airports other than Havana and affect about eight flights a day. The ban has no effect on charter flights. No international air carriers have regular direct flights between the U.S. and Cuba.
Under Obama, the United States reintroduced U.S. airline services to Cuba in 2016.
The Trump administration does not recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate president. It accused Cuban government of preventing a political transition in Venezuela by supplying Maduro with security and intelligence services.
Earlier this week, the Department of Commerce changed a regulation preventing US companies from leasing planes to Cuban government airlines.
In July, the State Department also imposed visa restrictions on officials of the Cuban communist regime involved in the export of medical services outside the island.
“The Cuban government engages in exploitative and coercive labor practices while earning money at the expense of its citizens through its medical missions abroad program,” said the statement signed by Mike Pompeo.
In June, the U.S. banned cruise trips to Cuba, as well as trips by private planes and yachts. In October, the administration announced new limits on remittances to the island.
The Trump administration also banned companies that allow shipments of Venezuelan oil to the island, which were part of an agreement established by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and that Maduro continues to uphold given the dramatic decline in the supply of Venezuelan oil. In September, in Cuba, the sanctions caused fuel shortages, and the government was forced to impose austerity measures.