President Donald Trump on June 16th began sybolically undoing some parts of his predecessor’s historic opening to the island nation, saying he was “canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”
The new measures included tighter restrictions on tourism travel and a prohibition of financial dealings with entities tied to Cuban military and intelligence services. Cuba’s military conglomerate GAESA and Gaviota are estimated to control more than half the country’s economy.
For U.S. citizens (or persons of “U.S. jurisdiction”), the rules about taking your yacht to Cuba remain largely unchanged.
“President Trump’s announcement today in Miami will have no effect on the ability of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba in the short-term,” said attorney Clay Naughton, a partner at the Coral Gables based maritime law firm Moore & Co., P.A. “Even in the long term, the changes for our clients will be imperceviable because we have always ensured they followed the letter of the law.”
Americans will be permitted to bring back souvenir items such as rum and cigars. Commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba will continue, and diplomatic relations will not be affected, though Trump will not name an ambassador to Havana.
Obama had halted the so-called “wet foot/dry foot” policy that had allowed Cubans who arrived on U.S. shores to apply for work permits that could eventually lead to citizenship — a move that will not be touched by Trump’s rollback.
Administration officials said the changes would not go into effect immediately. The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments will have 30 days to draft new regulations, and it will take an unspecified amount of time before implementation can take place. “It will take as long as it takes,” said one official.
Some matters remain unresolved. While the U.S. Treasury has yet to promulgate the specifics of the new Cuba rules, President Trump’s policy announcement specifically restricts direct transactions with entities tied to the Cuba military. For example, the new marina in Veradero, Cuba appears to be owned by Gaviota, a unit of the Cuban miliary that is largely involved in the travel and tourism industry. It seems likely that U.S. boaters will not bea able to pay for marina services at Veradero. Instead, they may choose to “anchor out” next to the marina.