Trump administration cancels charter flights to nine airports in Cuba

HAVANA, Jan. 10th (AFP) The United States on Friday sharply reduced flights allowed to go to Cuba in a bid to reduce tourism revenue to the island. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that charter flights would only be allowed to fly to Havana, not other airports — a step already taken with commercial flights.

The restrictions “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 Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“In suspending public charter flights to these nine Cuban airports, the United States further impedes the Cuban regime from gaining access to the hard currency from US travelers,” he said.

President Donald Trump has drastically reversed the course on Cuba set by his predecessor Barack Obama, who had launched an opening with the island.

Obama had described the more than half-century effort to topple Cuba’s communist government as a failure and visited Havana, viewing engagement as the best path forward.

The Trump administration, which enjoys support from hardline Cuban Americans in the critical political state of Florida, has sharply criticized Havana’s rights record and its support for Maduro, whom Washington is seeking to oust.