With Panama opposing, US tightens sanctions against Cuba

On November 1 Panama voted, as it has before, for the annual United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the US embargo against Cuba. This time only Israel joined the United States in opposing it and nobody abstained. Last year the Obama administration abstained and in the quarter century prior to that there were always some small Pacific island and African states that would oppose the resolution or abstain in order to avoid American wrath or maintain US aid. Not now. Under Donald Trump the Americans are more isolated than ever before. Vote tally screen at the UN.

World condemns American sanctions
against Cuba, Trump tightens them

by Eric Jackson

On November 8, one week after the United States lost a 191-2 United Nations General Assembly vote about American sanctions against Cuba, the Trump administration, as it had warned, tightened these restrictions. Panama’s representative at the UN, Laura Flores, cast the vote against, telling her Cuban counterpart that the long-standing Panamanian position had not changed. Like most other Latin American countries Panama does not particularly approve of Cuba’s form of government or economic system but like all other Latin American countries it considers that these are not the business of the United States.

In new US measures against Cuba Americans will only be able to travel to Cuba on “people to people” exchanges under the sponsorship of organizations subject to US government control and these only for academic purposes. It will be a crime for US citizens to stay at a hotel in Cuba or to conduct any transaction with most Cuban enterprises. There is still a certain leeway for Americans with relatives in Cuba to visit their families there.

What it practically means for Americans living in Panama remains to be seen. In the years when all most all travel by US citizens to Cuba was illegal under US law, Cuban immigration would stamp a visa on a separate piece of paper rather than a US passport and proof of travel in violation of the sanctions was difficult. Since those times Panama’s Copa Airlines has greatly expanded its service from Panama to three destinations in Cuba. We have no word yet on how the airline will respond to the new rules or how the US authorities might pressure Copa into helping with their enforcement.

The tightened rules go into effect on November 9 but those with airline tickets purchased before Trump announced his intentions to increase restrictions this past June will be grandfathered in on at least some of the rules.


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