Trump thrusts US, Cuba back toward hostile relations

Erika Turner
June 19, 2017

White House says President Donald Trump plans to announce a revised Cuba policy that's aimed at stopping the flow of USA cash to the country's military and security services.

"The president vowed to reverse the Obama administration policies toward Cuba that have enriched the Cuban military regime and has increased the repression on the island", a White House official said on the condition of anonymity.

The move marks yet another departure from a signature policy of the Obama administration, which ended a decades-long freeze of diplomatic ties with Cuba in 2014.

The new policies will prohibit doing business with institutions controlled by Cuban military or intelligence and will end the "people to people" travel program, which the Obama administration laxly enforced and essentially allowed tourism.

The Trump administration has been Gung-Ho about rolling back every single one of former President Obama's policies to the joy of Republicans who obstructed the former commander-in-chief through both of his terms. Travel and money sent by Cuban Americans will be unaffected.

Later in the year, on the campaign trail in Miami during the fall election campaign, Trump condemned Obama's normalization of relations between the two countries, which he called a "one-sided deal for Cuba and with Cuba, benefits only the Castro regime".

The official said that there also won't be any changes to regulations on what Americans can bring back from Cuba.

Instead, Trump will aim to make it tougher to travel to Cuba and restrict US financial transactions that benefit the communist-ruled regime.

Trump was making the announcement Friday at a Miami theater associated with Cuban exiles who oppose the island's leadership. "It puts these private businesses at an advantage, because Americans can only spend money with them, not the military monopoly", he told POLITICO.

That was a key aim of Obama's painstaking effort to restore ties with the communist-run island, which included a landmark visit there in 2016.

The new policy will ban most USA business deals with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), a sprawling conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, but make exceptions related to air and sea travel, the officials said.

Ferral Rimer wonders why the US would distance itself from Cuba, when it does business with other nations that have questionable human rights records. Some of the details of the changes were released Thursday.

A tour bus of Transgaviota drives past the USA embassy in Havana, Cuba June 13, 2017.

At home, Trump's critics have questioned why his administration is now singling out Cuba for its human rights record while insisting that in other parts of the world it will not lecture other countries on the issue.

Trump believes many of Obama's efforts undermine USA and Cuban economic interests, as well as national security. Only the U.S. Congress can lift the embargo, and lawmakers, especially those of Cuban heritage, like Sen.

"This is a limitation on what we did, not a reversal of what we did", Rhodes said in an interview.

Other reports by Insurance News

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