In just a few weeks, travelling to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba will become increasingly difficult for Americans, following a federal approval of new rules.
According to John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, the agency approved a number of new travel restrictions to places outside the United States on Friday, the last step before the new laws start to take effect.
In the future, Kirby said the department would issue warnings to Americans going to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, one month before their travel could be subject to restrictions. On top of that, he said, the U.S. Embassy in those countries will make recommendations about what Americans traveling abroad should do.
“This new memorandum, in both word and in spirit, reflects the importance of protecting U.S. citizens from abuse and exploitation of our legal immigration system,” Kirby said.
At the same time, it will continue to issue “routine” warnings to U.S. citizens traveling abroad.
As of July 2, the State Department now says it will prohibit people or entities in U.S. jurisdiction from conducting transactions in a currency or an instrument that were used in an illegal “money laundering or terrorism financing conspiracy.” The agency said it would also bar U.S. individuals and businesses from dealing with certain Venezuelan institutions in an “authorized transaction.”
Under the new rules, all of these entities that are deemed to be illicit are designated by the State Department under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, and must comply with money laundering requirements and adopt risk management policies in order to keep operating within the United States.
Venezuela’s politically and economically crashing regime is not the only entity to be threatened by a new money laundering crackdown.
Also included in the list is the Minaret Yaiwa Corporation, which is headquartered in Ulen, Texas.
The company’s financial network includes companies in Mexico, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bahrain, the Cayman Islands, Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, California, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
It’s impossible to know how many Americans travel to Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Cuba each year. According to the Department of Commerce, the top 10 U.S. tourist cities are Paris, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palm Springs, San Diego, San Francisco and Miami.
It’s also possible that this law is directed at Mexico in an effort to deter any Americans headed to that country from using services operated by the Minaret Yaiwa Corporation, such as restaurant reservations.
Recently, the State Department has seemed more focused on warning Americans to stay away from Cuba.
Its June travel warnings said in part, “the US Government increasingly has concerns about the activities of some of the largest US-based travel agencies, including agency employees or facilitators of a pro-Cuba travel company called YOA Travel, as well as trips by people involved in the Cuba Solidarity Movement, which advocates for the freedom of Cuba.”
In October of 2013, the United States said it was launching a manhunt to track down a man identified as Nick Greger, a known activist for Cuba as part of the most recent account of America’s efforts to stop U.S. citizens from going to Cuba.
Since then, according to the State Department, there has been an increase in detentions of people trying to promote the movement, and arrests have taken place around travel sites.
Since 2011, the State Department has also warned the media to stop using the name “Castro” and the word “enemy” to describe Cuba’s government.
It has also issued travel warnings to U.S. citizens visiting Cuba.