Not much new in Trump's Cuba policy

The same day, a dozen or so Republicans shared a meal with President Donald Trump to discuss the efforts.

When Mr Obama announced the detente in 2014, he said that decades of U.S. efforts to achieve change in Cuba by isolating the island had failed and it was time to try a new approach.

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

But during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump called Obama's policy change "a bad deal".

Havana decried the "hostile rhetoric that recalls the time of open confrontation", and "return to the coercive methods of the past".

Trump issued a blistering denunciation of Cuba's communist government on Friday.

"They made a deal with a government that spread violence and instability in the region and nothing they got, think about it, nothing they got, they fought for everything and we just didn't fight hard enough, but now, those days are over", Trump said.

Diplomatic relations, restored only two years ago, will remain intact, but in a shift from Mr Obama's approach, Mr Trump said trade and other penalties would stay in place until a long list of prerequisites was met.

"We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people", said President Trump.

Mitchell then explained that Americans will have a harder time traveling to the country, which the United States says is because they don't want American money funding Cuban military-owned resorts and hotels.

"We're pushing back, but we need the public to push back", Lee said. He unveiled the new policy during a speech in Miami, where the fervently anti-Castro expatriate community helped deliver an electoral victory to Trump in the crucial battleground state.

"His speech was aggressive and threatening, . revealing his contempt and ignorance", President Nicolas Maduro said in a speech.

"A Cuban small businessman should not be obliged to buy from the only wholesaler that exists now, which is the state", he said.

But he won roars of approval and cries of "Viva Cuba libre!" from the invited crowd of Cuban-Americans and Cuban exiles.

The Castro government is certain to reject Trump's list of demands, which includes releasing political prisoners, halting what the US says is abuse of dissidents and allowing greater freedom of expression.

"Additional prohibitions and oversight on travel will only confuse Americans and dissuade them from visiting Cuba, causing significant economic hardship to Cuban entrepreneurs and average Cuban families, as well as Americans working in the hospitality sector", a spokesman from educational exchange program company Cuba Educational Travel said.

The new measures prohibit financial transactions with Cuba's military-backed tourism conglomerate GAESA, which had hoped for a windfall from a new surge in American visitors.

Cuba functioned as a virtual USA colony for much of the 20th century, and even reform-minded Cubans are highly sensitive to perceived US infringements on national sovereignty.

"I don't know of anyone who has seen a copy of this bill", said Sen. "New restrictions on engagement with Cuban economy only pushes Cuba to China and Russian Federation who will gladly make up the difference", said Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama's Cuba policy. Still, the president's moves are not created to massively disrupt existing commercial ties that have grown between the USA and Cuba since the Obama administration moved to restore diplomatic ties in late 2014.

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

Weissenstein reported from Havana and Lederman from Washington.

  • Leroy Wright