Cuba condemns Donald Trump's 'hostile rhetoric' but still wants to talk

The past two years has shown that the two countries, as Cuban President Raul Castro has repeated, can cooperate and live together in a civilized manner, respecting differences and fostering everything that can benefit both nations and people, the statement points out.

Embassies in Havana and Washington will remain open.

Despite some strong language there will still be some Obama accomplishment left in the order such as the USA will continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, keeping embassies open in Havana and Washington. For example, if someone in the US has a family member die in Cuba, they can travel to the island nation.

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

One of the major changes in the policy directive is that US travelers making educational people-to-people trips can no longer go to Cuba individually but must travel in groups accompanied by a company representative.

And the United States government will police other trips to ensure travellers are pursuing a "full-time schedule of educational exchange activities".

Reacting to the news, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) voiced its "dissapointment" on the decision to enforce stricter rules on USA tourists visiting Cuba, including the move towards group travel arrangements.

"I can't go back because I'm an official enemy of the state", he explained.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, which implements these policies, has also not yet announced how it will respond to the changes.

Granma, the Cuban government's state-run newspaper, said the President was "stuck in a failed policy that has caused much damage to the Cuban people and has left the United States isolated".

Obama spent two years to improve relations with Cuba.

"More or less it might mean the experience when you're there might be more regimented than some of the free flow people have had", said Ganje.

"This is a limitation on what we did, not a reversal of what we did", Rhodes said in an interview. Only the U.S. Congress can lift the embargo, and lawmakers, especially those of Cuban heritage, like Sen. "To roll back the engagement will only manage to isolate us from the world", said Havana resident Marta Deus. "We're the ones who are hurt".

His critics, however, have questioned why his administration is now singling out Cuba for human rights abuses but downplaying the issue in other parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, a close USA ally Trump visited last month where political parties and protests are banned.

He said he based the measures largely on human rights grounds, calling on Cuba to release political prisoners and hold free and fair elections. Multiple major cruise lines have added Cuba to their itineraries over the past year.

"It doesn't make any sense", Lee said.

He added that USA sanctions would not be lifted until Cuba frees "political prisoners" and holds "free elections".

Marco Rubio made clear his support for the changes and said how many will characterize it as a way to punish the Cuba regime but it will also empower the people of Cuba.

The U.S. severed ties with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution, and spent decades trying to either overthrow the government or isolate the island, including by toughening an economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

  • Leroy Wright