Trump May Tighten Cuba Trade and What it Means
- Author: Leroy Wright May 31, 2017,
May 31, 2017, 7:16
But, current and former USA officials say, Trump is looking to make a symbolic gesture that will fulfill his campaign promises to conservative Cuban-American voters and anti-Castro members of Congress without closing the door on Cuba's emerging market for U.S. businesses.
Now expect the Trump White House will put into place "increased enforcement relating to travel", as well as "a focus upon discouraging transactions with entities controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of the Republic of Cuba".
The American agriculture sector, too, is resisting changes that would walk back the opening to Cuba, and they have a strong advocate in Trump's agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue.
Obama also gave illegal immigrants from Cuba a path to legal status and opened travel to the island nation. In March 2016, Obama became the first US president to visit Cuba in 85 years, according to Quartz.
Obama eased travel and business restrictions that the USA had placed on Cuba, but Trump could potentially undo all of concessions that brought Cuban President Raul Castro to the table by simply rescinding the executive orders. After generations during which harsh opposition to Castro's Cuba and fierce support for the American embargo were the dominant attitudes across all sub-demographics, recent years have seen attitudes thaw among younger Cuban-Americans.
Trump vowed to reverse Obama's policies on Cuba unless the country made concessions on religious and political freedoms and releases political prisoners.
Another prominent opponent of the Obama-era policies is U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami-Dade County Republican, who has shown loyalty to Republican and Trump policies, including voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. That doesn't mean a complete end to U.S. -Cuba economic relationships.
On April 5, Rubio signaled that Trump would impose new business restrictions that would cut out the Cuban military from profits.
Obama terminated the very policy Trump is trying to resuscitate, which ended preferential treatment to Cubans who reached USA soil.
While Trump may enact new travel restrictions on Cuba, a Senate majority has proposed loosening them even further. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Obama's decision invited sharp criticism from some Republicans, including two key lawmakers, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont reintroduced a bill that would lift all restrictions for tourism between the US and Cuba.
The policy review, coordinated by the National Security Council, is expected pick up steam now that Trump has returned from his first foreign trip, one administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The legislation is supported by 55 senators overall, MarketWatch reports.