In the latest attempt by the Trump administration to squeeze the Cuban economy, the Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it is ending the people-to-people program, which has been the most popular way for Americans to visit the country, through organized group trips in spite of the embargo. Private cruises to the island will also be banned. On Wednesday, the cruise companies Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian all said they will no longer travel to Cuba, affecting nearly 800,000 bookings. In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed the ban is in retaliation for Cuba “providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua.” Cuba supports the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, while the U.S. has backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó and demands to overthrow the Maduro government. In April, the administration also moved to allow U.S. nationals to sue any company that does business in Cuba using private property seized during the Cuban revolution. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel responded to the news by saying, “Cuba will not be frightened or distracted with new threats and restrictions. Work, creativity, efforts and resistance is our response. They haven’t been able to suffocate us. They won’t be able to stop us.” We speak with Cuban political science professor Arturo Lopez-Levy, co-author of the book “Raúl Castro and the New Cuba: A Close-Up View of Change.”
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