Thursday, 22 June, 2017

Trump to Announce Tougher Rules for Cuba

Marco Rubio previews coming Donald Trump change in Cuba policy Trump set to announce shift in US policy toward Cuba: Report
Conrad Doyle | 19 June, 2017, 13:53

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the policy before Trump announces it, despite the president's regular criticism of the use of anonymous sources.

Travel companies reacted to reports that President Donald Trump will announce plans tomorrow to roll back former President Barack Obama's policies loosening restrictions on travel to Cuba.

It also indicates that the new administration will not reinstate the wet foot, dry foot policy, which allowed Cuban immigrants who reached American soil to remain in the country.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa: "It appears that the Trump changes would subject Americans to a lot more bureaucratic red tape and complicate travel to Cuba". Last year, half a million Americans visited Cuba, more than triple the number compared with 2015. And U.S. companies will still be allowed to support telecommunications and Internet service on the island.

Trump's move was a direct rebuke to Obama, for whom the diplomatic opening with Cuba was a central accomplishment of his presidency.

The powerful Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A also runs most foreign hotels, meaning that Marriott's Starwood Hotels could lose the special license from the Obama administration it got to operate in Havana.

But there's also the hope among some White House officials that changes will jumpstart a new round of negotiations that could lead to a deal that's more to Trump's liking.

Trump is expected to justify the new restrictions on human rights grounds.

Trump believes many of Obama's efforts undermine US and Cuban economic interests, as well as national security.

Cafe Versailles, in the heart of Miami's "little Havana", may not be the heartbeat for the Cuban-American movement in the U.S. But it is arguably its soul. Trump's policy also will not reinstate the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which allowed any Cuban who made it to US soil to stay and become a legal resident. The Cuban government has made clear it will not be pressured into reforms in exchange for further engagement with Washington.

The U.S. severed ties with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution, and spent decades trying to either overthrow the government or isolate the island, including by toughening an economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The main authors of the new policy were Cuban-American Republicans in Congress, including Florida Sens.

Under the revised travel policy, United States officials say there will be tighter enforcement to make sure Americans legally fit the 12 authorized categories they claim to be travelling under, which could spook many visitors, wary of receiving a hefty fine. Normalizing relations with Cuba is believed to be one of the more notable accomplishments of Obama's legacy.

Almost five months into office, Trump has reversed Obama on items ranging from business regulations to participation in the Paris climate change agreement.

The new policy has come together after contentious meetings within the administration. Although Trump lost the Miami area to Hillary Clinton by double digits, he credits support from Cuban-Americans for helping him eke out a narrow victory statewide.

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