Trump to End 'Abusive' Individual People-to-People Travel to Cuba

Several US media outlets had reported the date and site for the announcement of the result of the review of Washington's Cuba policy that Trump promised when he took office, a policy that to date has included greater rapprochement with the communist island and was initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.

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. That seems odd given that the Trump administration is not particularly fond of pursuing that agenda in its foreign policy: there was no mention of human rights and political freedom during his visit to Saudi Arabia, for example. The venue is named after a leader of the failed US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 against Fidel Castro's revolutionary government. Normalizing relations with Cuba is believed to be one of the more notable accomplishments of Obama's legacy. In this June 12, 2016 photo, Cuban-American Fontaine Capel, center, travels on a regular bus line in Havana, Cuba. The policy will maintain diplomatic relations and allow US airlines and cruise ships to continue servicing the island.

But travelers could see stepped up enforcement when they return to the U.S. They are required to maintain full schedules and keep detailed logs while in Cuba - something that is rarely checked.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican who proposed similar restrictions in a bill two years ago, said that the goal of the policy change is to help Cuba's private sector. "But whatever reduction we do see in travel is direct proof of how much the military is benefiting from the current policy".

Among the new restrictions likely to impact Americans, Trump will prohibit individual educational trips to Cuba.

White House officials describe the policy change as fulfilling a promise Trump made to Florida's Cuban exile community last fall.

As Obama's policies were conducted via executive order, Trump can unilaterally reverse them without needing to seek Congressional approval.

The White House arrived at its new policy after consulting with Congress and numerous Cabinet secretaries, and concerns for human rights were a major factor.

The president says his new policy will also restrict the flow of American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of the government led by Raul Castro.

For almost 50 years Cuban exiles have gathered on 8th street, including Cuban-American Orlando Atienta, who said he's been visiting since he was 5 years old.

Even with carve outs, the new policy could pose problems for some USA businesses, including hoteliers and airlines who have put on regular flights between the U.S. and the Cuban capital.

There are also no plans to reinstate the limits that Obama lifted on the amount of the island's coveted rum and cigars that American can bring home for personal use, one White House official said.

  • Leroy Wright