Republicans divided as Trump reverses some Obama Cuba policy

Kristopher Drake
June 18, 2017

Trump yesterday was set to announce a plan to tighten rules on Americans travelling to Communist-run Cuba and significantly restrict usa firms from doing business with Cuban enterprises controlled by the military, White House officials said. Only "heavily regulated" tour groups will be allowed to travel from the U.S. to Cuba, ABC News reported.

The President said it was hard to think of a policy "that makes less sense than the prior administration's awful and misguided deal" with the "brutal" Castro government. Nelson Avila, center, joins anti-President Donald Trump protesters, calling for open relations with Cuba on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Miami.

"The new policy, announced by the USA president in relation to Cuba, brings us back to the already forgotten rhetoric in the Cold War style".

"#Cuba Now it is official: these are the new enemies of US Foreign Policy".

President Donald Trump shows a signed executive order on Cuba policy, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Miami.

Trump's speech in Miami to announce the rollback was "full of hostile rhetoric", Havana's statement said, adding that the announced policies will "revert" the progress achieved between the two countries in the past two years. Yet island officials say they remain willing to continue "respectful dialogue" on topics of mutual interest.

During his speech, Trump slammed Cuba for human rights abuses, saying, "The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela".

He clamped down on some commerce and travel, but left intact many new avenues former USA president Barack Obama had opened. Trump's approach is aimed at halting the flow of USA cash to the country's military while maintaining diplomatic relations. But Trump vowed that trade and other penalties would stay in place until a long list of prerequisites is met.

Some 285,000 people visited the Caribbean country in 2016, up 74 per cent over 2015, with Americans the third-biggest group after Canadians and Cuban expats.

For Cubans, the shift risks stifling a nascent middle class that has started to rise as Americans have flocked to the island on airlines, patronizing thousands of private bed-and-breakfasts.

Trump also demanded the return of US fugitives including Joanne Chesimard, a black militant convicted in 1977 of the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

"This is another blow for Cubans and it will hurt our pockets obviously", said Martha Garcia, 51.

"Faced with your words, the Cuban people stand up and, their flag held high, sing their war anthem!" said a Facebook post by Jennifer Bello Martinez, the head of Cuba's official Federation of University Students and, at 25, the youngest member of the powerful Council of State. Refusing to negotiate domestic reforms in exchange for USA concessions is perhaps the most fundamental plank of Cuba's policy toward the U.S.

US Senator Jeff Flake, one of the Republican Party's most vocal advocates for easing rules on US dealings with Cuba, called for a vote on legislation lifting restrictions on American travel there. In his view, it prevents USA companies from conducting business with companies controlled by the Cuban military. "But it should not be expected that to that end, Cuba will make compromises to its very sovereignty", it said.

"Today is a major setback for global relations, NAFSA, our allies and the Cuban and American people".

Trump asserted that the United States will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country's "great, great future, a country of great potential". "All the (U.S. economic) embargo has brought upon Cuba is misery".

Obama announced in December 2014 that he and Castro were restoring ties.

Weissenstein reported from Havana and Lederman from Washington.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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