US closes Cuban firm, cuts last US-Cuba air ties

The US Treasury Dept. closed down the Florida firm which flies Cuban exiles and others from Cuba - cutting off the only direct air link between the United States and Cuba.

The decision was not unexpected, but it presents a new stumbling block in any possible rapproachment between the two countries, writes Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell.

A US spokesman said American Airways Charters, Inc., (AAC) is controlled by Cuba in violation of the federal prohibition against Cuban firms maintaining an office or business operation in the US.

The ruling, which also blocked AAC assets in US banks, stranded some 50 passengers waiting to fly to Cuba April 9, and for a time put in limbo the return of some 2,000 AAC passengers now in Cuba. The Treasury later agreed to permit flights between Havana and Florida through April 12 to shuttle passengers back to the US.

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