The U.S. Treasury Department has tightened restrictions on travel to Cuba in retaliation to the country's "destabilizing role" in the western hemispheric region.
The agency said in a statement Tuesday it has banned group educational "people-to-people" travel to Cuba, one of the primary ways Americans visit the Caribbean island. Thousands of Americans began using this method to visit the island even before the administration of former President Barack Obama restored full diplomatic relations with the country in 2014.
The Treasury Department also banned private and corporate aircraft and boats from traveling to Cuba. Commercial airline flights are apparently allowed to continue, as is travel by university groups, journalists and those attending professional meetings.
The United States has placed sanctions on two shipping companies for transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba.
The Treasury Department said Friday it targeted the Marshall Islands-based Monsoon Navigation Corp. and Serenity Maritime Ltd., headquartered in Liberia.
The agency said the companies owned ships that were involved in oil transfers to Cuba, which the U.S. has accused of providing military support to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the ban was imposed for Cuba's role in the region, including its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
"Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes," said Mnuchin. "These actions will help to keep US. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services."
The agency said the sanctions would become effective after they are published Wednesday in the Federal Register.