Photo/IllutrationPeace Boat’s vessel named Ocean Dream cancels its port call at Cuba. (Provided by Peace Boat)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Nonprofit organization Peace Boat canceled its mission to deliver relief supplies to tornado-ravaged Cuba because of recently tightened U.S. economic sanctions against the island nation.

The 20 boxes of aid were aboard Ocean Dream, a Panamanian-registered vessel carrying about 1,200 people. They were on one of Tokyo-based Peace Boat’s around-the-world cruises intended to promote peace and human rights.

The ship was scheduled to arrive in the Cuban capital of Havana on June 13 after departing from New York on June 8.

However, the Trump administration on June 4 announced additional punitive measures against Cuba, including banning cruise ships, yachts and private planes from touching Cuban land, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Although the news release did not specify what penalties would be imposed for breaking the rules, cruises departing from the United States for Cuba have been canceled since the announcement of the new punitive measures, which took effect on June 5.

Peace Boat consulted lawyers in the United States, who advised the NGO to scrap the trip to Cuba because it could create a bottleneck for visiting other countries down the road.

Peace Boat has changed the anchorage site from Havana to Montego Bay in Jamaica.

After the tornado in Cuba in January killed six people, injured many others and damaged or destroyed houses, Cubans living in Japan started calling for support for the victims and collected clothes and shoes.

Peace Boat loaded these items on Ocean Dream, which is owned by a Miami-based maritime company, Seahawk Corp.

The NGO decided to bring the relief aid back to Japan because it would be too expensive to ship them to Cuba.

Peace Boat has visited Cuba 18 times, and its passengers, including atomic bomb survivors, had met with then Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

“It is regrettable that we can’t deliver the supplies,” an official of the organization said.