We're jumping right into new developments concerning the United States and Cuba, a Caribbean island country only 90 miles away from American soil. But in some ways the two nations are worlds apart. This week new rules take effect that limit where Americans can fly in to visit Cuba. Nine of the previous destinations on the island have been cancelled. Now U.S. airlines are only allowed to fly into the Cuban capital Havana.
This is expected to have a negative impact on Cuba's economy. And it's one of the ways the U.S. government is pressuring Cuba to make changes. The Trump Administration wants the communist nation to start holding democratic elections. It wants Cuba to stop harassing opponents of the nation's government. And it wants Cuba's government to stop supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro whom the U.S. doesn't recognize as Venezuela's rightful leader. American sanctions on Cuba's economy are nothing new, but five years ago former U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro formally started the process of normalizing relations between the two countries, which had been rivals since the Cold War.
President Obama said decades of cutting off Cuba economically and politically had failed to influence it's communist government to improve its record on human rights. But critics said Cuba's human rights record didn't improve under the Obama policy either. The Trump Administration's pressure on Cuba includes the new flight limits, a ban on U.S. cruise ships from visiting Cuba and preventing ships carrying Venezuelan oil from sailing to Cuba.