The United States is targeting tourism in Cuba with new sanctions on leased aircraft from the USA.
Citing its repression of its own people and support for the “illegitimate” Maduro regime in Venezuela, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, an office in the Department of Commerce, announced new sanctions on Cuba’s access to commercial aircraft.
I’ve written about Cuba’s beleaguered airline industry. With limited access to parts and new aircraft, flag carrier Cubana has been forced to suspend many routes. The only way it has continued to operate some routes vital for tourism is through leased aircraft.
The move by the U.S. will not only deny future applications for aircraft leases, but revoke existing licenses for U.S. companies leasing aircraft to Cuban airlines.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said,
This action by the Commerce Department sends another clear message to the Cuban regime -– that they must immediately cease their destructive behavior at home and abroad. The Trump Administration will continue to act against the Cuban regime for its misdeeds, while continuing to support the Cuban people and their aspirations for freedom and prosperity.
Practically, this will hurt Cuba’s tourism industry, which provides a vital source of hard currency for the isolated nation. With Venezuela languishing in hyperinflation and civil unrest, assistance to Cuba has been reduced. One way Cuba has tried to make up for the deficit is by increasing tourism. Leased aircrafts have been essential in that mission, especially as U.S. cruise ships are no longer allowed to dock in Cuba.
In 2014 I wrote a fairly lengthy post outlining my thoughts on the Cuba situation. My viewpoint really has not changed. I hope these punitive measures will not lead to the needless loss of life, but instead bring political reform to Cuba. Sadly, I fear the opposite will occur.