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Josefina Vidal Characterized New US Measures against Cuba as a Setback
Josefina Vidal. Photo taken from cubadebate (archive)
The US government measures announced on Wednesday by the US State, Treasury and Commerce Departments confirm the serious setback of bilateral relations as a result of the change of policy towards Cuba pronounced by President Donald Trump, said Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, General Director of the US Division of the Foreign Ministry.

The Cuban diplomat said that the measure implies a reinforcement of the blockade and restricts even further US citizens from traveling to Cuba.

Vidal added that some of the measures does not hide the subversion intentions like encouraging travelers to carry out activities to justify the legality of their visit to the island.

The objective of Washington’s new regulations, said Vidal, is to hurt the island’s economy and its State and non-State actors while affecting US citizens who are the only people in the world that are not allowed to freely travel to Cuba.

Its objective is clearly to hurt tourism and the economy, said Vidal during a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Havana.

US business executives will lose out to interesting opportunities in Cuba because Washington will not approve licenses to carry out specific negotiations on the island and will lose to their competitors, she said.

The head of the US Division at the Foreign Ministry commented on the list that the State Department published and characterized it as arbitrary and invited the reporters to carefully revise the document because it includes different Cuban entities which are allegedly linked to sectors of defense and security.

She said that among other entities and institutions that are on the list are the Ministries of the Armed Forces and Interior, Revolutionary National Police, Coast Guard, the Mariel Special Development Zone and its container terminal; in addition to over 80 hotels in Cuba, travel agencies and stores.

The list also includes brand names like the TuKola and Cachito soft drinks and Photo Service, the diplomat said ironically, who stressed: from now on, no US citizen or company can have any direct transactions with these entities.

According to the State Department, the list will be revised periodically so other entities will probably be included.

The new decisions had already been announced by Donald Trump last June 16th when he signed the Presidential National Security Memorandum reinforcing the US policy towards Cuba, an executive directive that turned back the process of normalization between both nations that began in 2014 that led to the establishment of diplomatic relations in July of 2015.

The regulations, which will be put into effect on Thursday limits relations, in for example, financial transactions, trade and business.

Individual travel will be prohibited, all people to people nonacademic educational travel must be conducted under the auspices of an organization in the US and must be accompanied by a representative of the sponsoring organization.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, will demand for each participant that travels to Cuba do so under the program “support for the Cuban people”, have a full program of activities with the objective already declared in the new policy of alleged support to civil society, in clear allusion to subversion programs.

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