Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Trump Adopts Harder Line On Cuba


The Obama administration made historic improvements in ties with Cuba since restarting diplomatic relations in 2014, a move that ended decades of estrangement from one of the U.S.'s closest neighbors.

President Trump will on Friday announce his plans to ban Americans traveling to Cuba for tourism purposes and also clamp down on business dealings of the United States with Cuban military, fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

But even as he curbs Obama's détente with Cuba, Trump will stop short of closing embassies or breaking off diplomatic relations restored in 2015 after more than five decades of hostility, USA officials said.

Senior administration officials said in a media briefing Thursday afternoon that President Trump will ban people-to-people travel to Cuba for individual Americans.

Under Obama, the two countries restored diplomatic ties and direct communications, including air connections and postal service.

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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.

"Travel from the U.S.to Cuba is an important way to encourage people-to-people diplomacy", the company wrote in a statement.

The new policy will ban most USA business transactions with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), a sprawling conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, but make some exceptions, including for air and sea travel, the officials said. Obama and his aides argued that commerce and travel between the countries, which has blossomed since he relaxed the rules, would make his policy irreversible.

Senator Rubio tweeted his frustration toward the Cuban government for not allowing two pro-democracy leaders to fly to Miami for the announcement Friday.

Embassies in Havana and Washington will remain open.

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Slamming the brakes on U.S. -Cuba business deals, and once again, strictly limiting U.S travel to Havana.

Yuri Barroso, a business promotions expert in Cuba, told Reuters that if the country were to lose its support from us tourists, it would cause serious financial "pain for many Cubans".

And it will not limit travel by or remittances from Cuban Americans, as former President George W. Bush did - though fewer Cuban government officials will be allowed to come to the US and receive money than under Obama.

Florida was a key state in Trump's stunning Electoral College victory in 2016, and the Cuban-American community is politically influential in the state.

Even family visits in Cuba from USA relatives could be in jeopardy.

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But on Friday, Trump, citing human rights violations, will sign an executive order in Miami on the new policy. "We can't put the genie back in the bottle 100 percent-I think this is an effort to improve upon what the president has said is a very bad deal". We want to empower and we want to strengthen the Cuban people without strengthening the Cuban military, which controls a significant percentage of their economy. And U.S. companies will still be allowed to support telecommunications and Internet service on the island. It seeks to force Cuba to hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, and allow political and religious freedom.

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