While there is no evidence so far that tourists or hotel employees have been affected, the governmentâs travel warning could cripple Cubaâs burgeoning tourism industry if tour operators, hotel and cruise line companies or their insurers decide that their employees and customers could be at risk.
âRight now, the most important constituency of determining the impact of this is not members of Congress or pundits; itâs the insurance companies,â said John Kavulich, the president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. âIf the carriers withdraw coverage because of this warning, then everything could shut down there almost overnight.â
The timing of Mr. Tillersonâs decision and its potential fallout promises to write yet another chapter in an extraordinary history between the two countries that has included the explosion of the American battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898, the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Then, in 2014, after decades of frosty relations, constant sniping and severed diplomatic relations, President Barack Obama reversed course and reached an agreement with President RaÃºl Castro of Cuba to reopen embassies in the countriesâ respective capitals and begin to encourage nascent tourism and business ties.
But the rapprochement was deeply unpopular among a powerful segment of Cuban Ã©migrÃ©s in Florida, and Mr. Trump in his campaign vowed to reverse what he called a âterrible and misguided deal.â Once in office, Mr. Trump did undo crucial pieces of Mr. Obamaâs policy, but kept in place others that were broadly popular, such as allowing direct flights and cruises between the United States and Cuba, and rules making it easier for American companies to do business in Cuba.
On Capitol Hill, a debate began immediately over whether Mr. Tillerson acted too quickly or not quickly enough. He has known since a few days after his confirmation on Feb. 1 that…