Trump clamps down on US-Cuban travel and trade

Posted June 20, 2017

A corresponding sentiment is attributed to one of Trump's predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt: "Americans learn only from catastrophe and not from experience".

On June 16, 2017, President Trump announced in a speech in Miami a major departure from the prior administration's policy of reengagement with Cuba, reinstating certain travel restrictions previously eased by the Obama administration and imposing important new restrictions on commercial activities.

Trump's revised approach calls for stricter enforcement of a longtime ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists, and seeks to prevent US dollars from being used to fund what the Trump administration sees as a repressive military-dominated government. The next Summit of the Americas, slated for 2018, could present President Trump with the opportunity to seek partners in pursuing his agenda in the region, but his shift in Cuban policy will likely hinder cooperation and earn him a far less positive reception than Obama received at the last Summit.

Trump's vow to keep the broader decades-old US economic embargo on Cuba firmly in place drew criticism from some USA farmers, especially growers of corn, soybeans and rice.

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Fellow Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart also lauded Trump for keeping a campaign promise. But it makes some exceptions, including for air and sea travel, according to US officials.

"If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S.as a whole, I will terminate deal", he tweeted. U.S. travelers will be prohibited from spending money at hotels and restaurants tied to the Cuban military.

The changes are meant to cut off cash to Cuban leader Raúl Castro's regime, which controls about 60 percent of the island's economy through military-run enterprises, and pressure the Cuban government to let the nascent private sector grow. "While today is a setback, we will continue to advocate toward Cuba travel freedom and look forward to the day it becomes reality", it said. This restriction punishes individual American citizens by blocking them from traveling where they wish to go, and it does Cubans no favors. "We will review the extent of the tightening of the travel rules, but our guests have already been traveling under the 12 approved forms of travel to Cuba since we undertook our historic first cruise to Cuba more than a year ago".

The LA Times commented in an editorial that Trump just reopened the Cold War with Cuba. Although the policy changes that Trump is proposing are minor, his changes and sharp rhetoric towards Cuba may anger domestic voters as well leaders throughout the hemisphere. "He could at least try to make a fake excuse a little more believable".

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A White House factsheet listed four main objectives of the Trump changes, including, "hold the Cuban regime accountable for oppression and human rights abuses ignored under the Obama policy".

Rodriguez echoed this point saying that when Trump was recently in Saudi Arabia "he said 'We are not here to tell other people how to live.' Last Friday he said quite the opposite". And, in addition, Obama allowed "people to people" trips, meaning, in practice, people could travel to Cuba as tourists, which thousands of Americans have been doing.

The U.S. embassy in Havana, which opened in 2015, will remain open.

Instead, the US President, who has been once again ill-advised, is taking decisions that favor the political interests of an irrational minority of Cuban origin in the state of Florida which, out of petty motivations, does not give up its intent to punish Cuba and its people for exercising the legitimate and sovereign right of being free and having taken the reins of their own destiny. "We all know that Raúl Castro and the leadership in Cuba will be fine".

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