US bans charter flights to Cuban cities besides Havana

HAVANA (AP) — The Trump administration is banning charter flights to Cuban cities besides Havana in a new tightening of U.S. restrictions on the island.

In October, the administration banned commercial flights to cities outside the capital.

The State Department said in a press release Friday that charter operators would have 60 days to wind down their flights to Santiago, Holguin and seven other cities across the island, and put a new restriction on the number of charter flights to Havana’s Jose Martí International Airport.

“‘Today’s action will further restrict the Cuban regime’s ability to obtain revenue, which it uses to finance its ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its unconscionable support for dictator Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in the statement.

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The new restriction leaves both leisure travelers and Cuban-Americans without an easy way to travel to destinations outside the Cuban capital. Driving from Havana to eastern Cuba can take more than 12 hours on poorly maintained and often dangerous roads.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said on Twitter that the new measure was a “serious violation of human rights and freedom of travel of U.S. citizens and hinders family reunification.”

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