“We felt like it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Severino of his trip in January.
Before traveling, he and his friends were required to select from a list of 12 approved reasons for traveling to the island nation.
“What I chose was support of the Cuban people,” said Severino. “I brought down some hand sanitizer, mouthwash and toothpaste and we handed that out.”
But Severino admits his trip was much more about having fun than supporting Cubans.
“Well yeah… we went on vacation,” he said, with a smile.
But that ability to just go and “have fun” could soon be severely restricted. President Trump is trying to keep money out of the hands of the Cuban military and is expected to announce a series of new policy changes relating to Cuba on Friday.
While the exact details of the Trump plan are still unknown, early indications are that existing rules would be strictly enforced and travelers could even be fined if they’re found not to meet the requirements for an approved trip.
Severino says that could make people cancel their trips altogether.
"That would be unfortunate for the Cuban people,” he said. “We probably went down there and collectively spent $10,000. That’s huge for an economy that’s been so contained for so long.”
And with future restrictions unclear Seveino says he’s unsure if he’ll ever have the opportunity to return.