The U.S. flag flies at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, August 14, 2015. The U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens on September 29, 2017 not to visit Cuba. Yander Zamora / Reuters
The U.S. State Department issued a categorical travel warning about Cuba: Americans shouldn’t visit.
“The Department of State warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Cuba,” the warning begins. [See the full text of the travel warning for Cuba below.]
Published news articles earlier Friday indicated that a warning would be tied to U.S. embassy employees in Havana reportedly being subjected to attacks of an unspecified nature in Cuban hotels and at diplomatic facilities.
But the actual warning issued today says isn’t limited to hotels but cautions U.S. citizens to avoid the island altogether. This will be a blow, in particular, to cruise lines and U.S. airlines that have upped their itineraries on the island since the Obama administration opened things up.
The warning also announced that nonemergency U.S. Embassy employees and their families will be leaving Cuba.
The Trump administration had announced in June that it would leave airline and cruise travel to Cuba mostly intact, but it would clamp down on travel companies, such as U.S.-based hotel companies, doing business with the Cuban military. Many tourism enterprises in Cuba, particularly hotels, have ties to the Cuban military.
It’s up to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control to specify how the Trump administration plans to restrict U.S. travel to Cuba, reversing some of the Obama administration’s policies to open up Cuba travel to U.S. citizens, but the new regulations have not materialized yet despite missing a 90-day deadline.
All bets are off now that the State Department has warned Americans to avoid traveling to Cuba. Perhaps the new Treasury Department regulations will be more far-reaching than many observers envisioned.
Asked to react to the State Department travel warning to Cuba, Airbnb stated:
“We always advise our hosts and guests to check for any travel warnings or travel advisories that may apply to their plans. We encourage Americans with plans to travel to Cuba to review the latest updates from the State Department. Consistent with US law, our operations in Cuba will continue — hosts will continue to have the chance to offer their homes and experiences to guests visiting the island. Additional safety tips can be found here.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
Here’s the full text of the warning, which was issued Friday:
“The Department of State warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Cuba. Over the past several months, numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees have been targeted in specific attacks. These employees have suffered significant injuries as a consequence of these attacks. Affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.
“The Governments of the United States and Cuba have not yet identified the responsible party, but the Government of Cuba is responsible for taking all appropriate steps to prevent attacks on our diplomatic personnel and U.S. citizens in Cuba. Because our personnel’s safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba. Attacks have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens. On September 29, the Department ordered the departure of nonemergency U.S. government employees and their family members to protect the safety of our personnel.
“Due to the drawdown in staff, the U.S. Embassy in Havana has limited ability to assist U.S. citizens. The Embassy will provide only emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens in Cuba in need of emergency assistance should contact the Embassy by telephone at +(53)(7) 839-4100 or the Department of State at 1-202-501-4444. U.S. citizens should not attempt to go to the U.S. Embassy as it suffered severe flood damage during Hurricane Irma.
“Travelers should apprise family and friends in the United States of their whereabouts, and keep in close contact with their travel agency and hotel staff.
“For further information:
“Visit the Embassy Havana website for the latest messages to U.S. citizens and other information related to Embassy operations.
“See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Cuba.
“Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest security updates and make it easier for the nearest U.S. Embassy to locate you in an emergency.
“Follow the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Twitter @USEmbCuba and Facebook and the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.”
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Author: Ryan Wolkov
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