Cuba rejects 'hostile rhetoric' of Trump

Cuba's government on Friday criticized US President Donald Trump's "hostile rhetoric" in announcing new restrictions on Washington's ties to the island, but reiterated Havana's willingness to continue "respectful dialogue".

The Arizona Republican says any policy change "that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people".

In Havana, Cuba's government criticised the new restrictions on ties with the USA that were announced by Trump, but reiterated its willingness to hold a "respectful dialogue" with Washington.

Cuban President Raul Castro, responding to Trump's announcement, said: "Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve it through pressures and impositions, or by employing subtle methods, will be doomed to failure".

Trump said Friday that any easement of restrictions on doing USA business in Cuba would have to wait until political prisoners are freed and fair elections are held.

"Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing USA law", he told a cheering crowd in Miami's Little Havana, the spiritual home of the Cuban- American community. "We will continue working with the administration to minimize any impact on the traveling public", the group's Vaughn Jennings told Bloomberg BNA in a statement.

Furthermore, he said the Obama deal has done little to improve diplomatic relations or the lives of those still living under Communist control. "All the (U.S. economic) embargo has brought upon Cuba is misery".

Trump said his new policy will tighten rules on travel and on sending funds to Cuba.

While Trump explained in a Miami speech that he was ending Obama's "terrible and misguided deal" because of the Cuban government's "repression" of its people, the Washington Post noted that Trump's policy change could benefit, well, Trump - specifically, his hotel business.

"#Cuba Now it is official: these are the new enemies of US Foreign Policy". -Cuban relations in an audience largely made of Cuban-Americans who fled Castro's Cuba and established themselves in Miami, Florida. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a key player in forging the new policy, was expected to attend along with other Cuban-American lawmakers. "We call on Congress to permanently remove restrictions on travel and trade to Cuba by enacting the bipartisan measures introduced in the House and the Senate, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017 and the Cuba Trade Act of 2017, restoring the freedom to travel, trade and learn", Welch concluded.

The administration announced changes June 16 that it says will halt the flow of money to "the core of the Castro regime"-the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services".

"Trump is adding teeth to Obama's previous policy, and he's talking about putting the human rights issue first", he added.

"It's like we are returning to the Cold War", said Cuban designer Idania del Rio, who joined a group of friends in a hotel in Old Havana to watch the speech in English on CNN.

"This is a limitation on what we did, not a reversal of what we did", Rhodes said in an interview. The president announced a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of USA cash to the country's military and security services. Trump cast that as a sign the USA still wanted to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much stronger and better path". "We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are free".

The Cuban leader added that "the USA is not in a position to give us lessons", voicing "serious concerns" on the "numerous cases of murders, brutality and police abuses, the exploitation of child labour, racial discrimination and restrictions on healthcare services".

  • Zachary Reyes