The U.S. government said on Oct. 25 it would bar U.S. airlines from flying to all destinations in Cuba besides Havana starting on Dec. 10 as the Trump administration boosts 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 administrations 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.”
“This action will prevent the Castro regime from profiting from U.S. air travel and using the revenues to repress the Cuban people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter. Raul Castro stepped down as president last year but remains head of the Communist Party, the countrys highest authority.
Today, I asked @SecElaineChao to suspend scheduled air service between the U.S. and all Cuban airports, except Havanas 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 move will bar U.S. air carrier flights to any of the nine international airports in Cuba other than Havana and impact about 8 flights a day.
The prohibition does not impact charter flights. There are no foreign air carriers providing direct scheduled flights between the United States and Cuba.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a tweet that his country strongly condemned the move and that it “strengthened restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba and its citizens freedoms.”
Carrie Filipetti, deputy assistant secretary for Cuba and Venezuela in the State Departments Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said Havana would serve as the gateway for Cuban-Americans wanting to see their relatives.
“We want to make sure that Cuban-Americans do have a route to their families. You need to enter. Havana is currently carved out for this,” she said.
She warned, however, that “we will continue to increase sanctions” and said other countries should do the same.
“It is a long path with many steps along the way,” she said to a standing ovation.