Trump's new Cuba policy restricts tourism, military business

President Trump told TheDC in 2015 that he was open to ending the Cuban embargo, but on the campaign trail said he would reverse Obama's changes.

"There are 12 categories of travel that are permitted still, but that one of the individual people-to-people travel was one that was of the highest risk of potential abuse of the statutory ban on tourism", a senior White House official said Thursday.

Nor are there plans to reinstate limits that Obama lifted on the amount of the island's coveted rum and cigars that Americans can bring home for personal use. USA airlines and cruise ships will still be allowed to serve the island 90 miles south of Florida.

Trump says in a speech in Miami that the US will not lift sanctions on Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban people's right to freedom of assembly and expression.

The Trump administration says the goal of the directive is to end business practices that enrich Havana's government but fail to benefit the Cuban people. "Officially, today, they are rejected".

American tourists with existing plans to travel to Cuba may not be affected.

Cuban-Americans will still be able to travel to Cuba and send remittances, limiting the impact on residents of Florida, where many Cuban emigres settled. The policy will not directly talk about flights and cruises.

While far from a major reversal of Obama's détente with Cuba, the revised policy has borrowed from suggestions from more hardline Cuban-Americans who believed Obama had struck an uneven bargain with the Castro regime. Sen. Remittances to Cuba won't be cut off. USA citizens may only visit Cuba if their activities pertain to government affairs, journalism, research, education, religious or humanity projects, family, or business.

Trump described his move as an effort to ramp up pressure to create a "free Cuba" after more than half a century of communism.

Improvements in ties, in fact, "have been very slow and even disappointing, so to speak", said Torrico.

Trump's declaration in a crowded, sweltering auditorium was a direct rebuke to Obama, for whom the diplomatic opening with Cuba was a central accomplishment of his presidency. The new president's action is broadly opposed by American business groups. "It would be exceedingly disappointing to see the progress that has been made in the last two years halted and reversed by the Administration".

He has challenged Cuba to "come to the table" to strike a deal that serves both country's interests. He's expected to unveil his policy in a speech Friday in Miami. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart say more sanctions are needed. "You have not betrayed us - you kept your promise".

The president will ban United States tourist travel to the island, restate the importance of the trade embargo and institute a broad prohibition on financial transactions with companies controlled by the Cuban military, according to Politico, which got a draft version of the new policy.

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.

  • Larry Hoffman