Trump Adopts Harder Line On Cuba

Trump Adopts Harder Line On Cuba

President Donald Trump is set to announce curbs on United States firms doing business with the Cuban military and tighter rules on travel to the island tomorrow, as he tries to roll back an opening initiated by Barack Obama.

According to media reports, President Trump is expected to announce on Friday that his administration will revert some of President Obama's policies toward Cuba.

Getting to stroll through the colorful streets of Havana may soon be much harder for Americans.

But even as he curbs Obama's détente with Cuba, Trump will stop short of closing embassies or breaking off diplomatic relations restored in 2015 after more than five decades of hostility, US officials said. Rather, it is the smart use of US economic power to continue to put pressure on the Castro regime for its continued human-rights abuses, even as Americans interact directly with the Cuban people.

The rules did not actually change what USA visitors are legally able to do in Cuba, and regular tourism is still technically illegal, but it allowed individuals to take people-to-people trips and self-certify in an affidavit that they had complied with those regulations. That company, which owns hotels, restaurants, stores and money exchanges in Cuba, is believed to control over half the economy.

Any new prohibitions should prohibit USA investments and business partnerships with the Cuban military and security services - including Cuban companies owned by the military - under existing general license authorizations enacted as part of the Obama administration's unwinding. And they will saddle the US government with the complicated task of policing to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy. Obama ended it on January 12.

"I am confident the president will keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and which advance the Cuban people's aspirations for economic and political liberty", Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in a statement.

There are divisions within the Trump administration however concerning the extant of the diplomatic rollbacks, especially given that Obama's opening to Washington's former Cold War foe has created opportunities for American companies ranging from telecommunications to airlines. "So directing the Treasury to change regulations to ensure anyone who does people-to-people travel does so as part of a group will ensure they engage in a schedule of activities that actually do so".

The officials argued that the new policy will fulfill a campaign promise and reverse Obama-era policies that the Trump administration argues have appeased and "enriched" the Cuban military regime.

It also indicates that the new administration will not reinstate the wet foot, dry foot policy, which allowed Cuban immigrants who reached American soil to remain in the country.

Also not expected are any changes to USA regulations governing what items Americans can bring back from Cuba, including the rum and cigars produced by state-run enterprises.

"I'm Cuban. So, I'm seeing my side my people and what's been happening in the past two years has been helping my people", Maceda said.

Critics say Obama didn't exact concessions from the Cuban government on human rights and democratic reforms.

More broadly, the Trump administration appears to have learned one of the core lessons of recent sanctions-unwinding episodes: relieving certain sanctions pressure on rogues does not mean we need to give up all of our economic leverage. "Likewise, Americans should be allowed to travel to other nations and serve as diplomats who can spread our soft power overseas".

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