HAVANA – The Cuban government said on Wednesday United States restrictions on travel and business with Cuba represent a serious setback to bilateral relations.
The measures, which will take effect on Thursday, enact the memorandum signed in June by US President Donald Trump, in which he expressed his intention to reverse predecessor’s Barack Obama administration’s detente with Cuba.
The director for the US Division at Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Josefina Vidal, said in a statement to the press on Wednesday that the new regulations would hurt both Cuba’s economy and US business interests.
“Has it worked in 55 years? It’s the old line: ‘We sanctioned Cuba, we put pressure on its government to bring about changes.’ It does not work. It has never worked,” Vidal said.
“They will harm not only the state and non-state sectors of our economy, but also the citizens of the US” who will see their right to travel to Cuba become “even more restricted,” Vidal said.
Among the measures is the ban on transactions with 179 companies and entities, including hotels, shops, tourist agencies, shipyards and even brands of soda and rum.
The measures follow the expulsion of 15 Cuban diplomats from the US in October after 22 of its own embassy officials in Havana suffered ill health from mysterious sonic attacks.
Trump said last month that he believed Cuba’s government was behind the attacks.
The State Department has not blamed the Cuban government, saying that it did not know who was responsible for the attacks, which the FBI is investigating.
Washington, however, has accused Havana of failing to protect US diplomatic personnel working on Cuban territory, an accusation which the Cubans have rejected.
The Cuban government has denied any involvement and said an investigation has been opened.