Trump's Cuba Policy Calls For Tightening Of Trade, Travel Restrictions

South Florida's Cuban-American community sounded off on President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to Little Havana, where he is expected to announce changes to the current US policy with Cuba.

The president is expected to emphasize that a ban on American tourism to Cuba remains in effect and announce that his administration will "strictly [enforce] the 12 authorized categories for US citizens to travel to the island".

President Trump's aides say that Mr. Hussein Obama's easing of United States restrictions has done nothing to advance political freedoms in Cuba, while benefiting the Cuban government financially.

Trump's changes, shared Thursday with the Miami Herald, are meant to sharply curtail cash flow to the Cuban government and pressure its communist leaders to let the island's fledgling private sector grow. That company, which owns hotels, restaurants, stores and money exchanges in Cuba, is believed to control over half the economy.

Early reports from Washington indicate President Trump is vowing to keep his campaign pledge to anti-Castro hardliners in south Florida.

The U.S. feels like it is in a new Cold War, and the Trump administration is getting a little nostalgic with its policy towards Cuba.

Former President Barack Obama may have begun normalizing relations with Cuba, but President Donald Trump will be re-tightening regulations regarding travel. Instead, U.S. visitors would once again be required to travel in groups with a set itinerary designed for educational, not strictly tourist, purposes. His aides contend that Obama's easing of USA restrictions amounted to "appeasement" and has done nothing to advance political freedoms in Cuba, while benefiting the Cuban government financially.

It is speculated that Trump may now limit USA citizens travel to the island and prohibit companies from doing business with sectors linked to the Cuban military. How big the changes in policy will be, however, remains to be seen. While the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba will still remain, a subcategory - individual people-to-people travel - is on the chopping block.

Those on both sides of the issue say the Starwood decision was particularly vexing for the administration.

The event comes almost two years after the USA and Cuba formally restored relations, an occasion marked by the reopening of a US embassy in Havana, on July 20, 2015.

Of major note, there will be no change to the "wet foot, dry foot" policy and the US embassy in Cuba will also remain open.

So-called "people to people" trips, which enable American travelers to visit Cuba for educational purposes on their own as opposed to with a tour group, will be eliminated under the new US policy. USA citizens may only visit Cuba if their activities pertain to government affairs, journalism, research, education, religious or humanity projects, family, or business.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., worked with Trump on the changes, pushing for a harder line.

Though Trump will announce his new policy this Friday, nothing will change until the agencies implement those regulations.

Commercial flights, which resumed for the first time in 50 years last summer, will still continue between the US and Cuba. The pro-business leaders said travel and trade with Cuba boosts American businesses and spread free market ideals to the island. "Access to foreign markets unleashes domestic productivity and gives workers a greater range of employment opportunities".

These changes will affect Cuba's burgeoning tourist industry that has lured Americans who had always been attracted by the island just 90 miles from Florida but impossibly out of reach thanks to long-standing sanctions.

  • Zachary Reyes