US eliminates coveted 5-year tourist visa for Cubans
|Toronto Star 15 Mar 2019 at 17:14|
HAVANA - The U.S. State Department said Friday that it is eliminating a coveted five-year tourist visa for Cubans, dealing a heavy blow to entrepreneurs and Cuban members of divided families, who used the visas to see relatives in the United States and buy precious supplies for their businesses on the island.
The elimination of the visa cuts a vital link between the U.S. and Cuba by forcing Cubans to make a costly and complicated trip to a third country like Mexico or Panama every single time they want to visit the U.S. That’s because the U.S. withdrew most of its non-essential diplomatic staff from Havana in September 2017 and stopped issuing visas of almost any type in Cuba.
“This affects every Cuban but especially entrepreneurs who have to travel to get products that don’t exist here,” said Niuris Higueras, who brings salt, hand towels, candles and other products from the U.S. for her restaurant Atelier, one of Havana’s most successful private eateries.