You have /5 articles left.
Sign up for a free account or log in.

President Trump is expected today to direct changes to American policy toward Cuba, including by stepping up enforcement of the statutory ban on travel to Cuba for tourism-related purposes and by eliminating an option for Americans to travel to the island for individual people-to-people exchanges outside the auspices of an organized group, according to senior White House officials. However, 12 other forms of travel -- which would include various forms of academic travel -- will continue to be permitted.

"There are 12 categories of travel that are permitted still, but that one of the individual people-to-people travel was one that was of the highest risk of potential abuse of the statutory ban on tourism," a senior White House official said Thursday. The 12 forms of authorized travel to Cuba include travel for professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; humanitarian projects; and activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes.

President George W. Bush cracked down on academic travel to Cuba, virtually stopping study abroad to the island, but regulations promulgated by President Obama in 2011 and 2014 opened the way for vastly expanded academic exchanges, as did the resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba in July 2015. The category of individual people-to-people travel that is slated to be eliminated was only added as an authorized option in March 2016.

Nothing will go into effect immediately: White House officials said Trump will direct the secretaries of commerce and Treasury to revise the regulations, and nothing will go into effect until those regulations are promulgated. In addition to travel, other changes will include a prohibition of direct financial transactions involving Cuban military, intelligence and security services, with some exceptions. The Associated Press reported that the expected changes will ban transactions with a military-linked corporation that operates dozens of hotels and other tourist facilities. Travel to Cuba by U.S. airlines and cruise ships will continue, however.

White House officials described the policy changes as in keeping with Trump’s promise to restore U.S. restrictions on Cuba unless it provides political and religious freedom for its people, though the expected changes are limited in scope and do not reflect a full reversal of Obama-era policies toward increased engagement and restored diplomatic relations.