Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Trump unveils new restrictions on travel, business with Cuba


"President Trump promised that he would repeal everything Obama had done with Cuba", said Valladares, who was appointed ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. "Unfortunately, today's moves actually limit the possibility for positive change on the island and risk ceding growth opportunities to other countries that, frankly, may not share America's interest in a free and democratic Cuba that respects human rights", Myron Brilliant, the chamber's executive vice president and head of worldwide affairs, said in a statement emailed to reporters.

His critics, however, have questioned why his administration is now singling out Cuba for human rights abuses but downplaying the issue in other parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, a close United States ally Trump visited last month where political parties and protests are banned. At the same time he put a hold on the detente begun by President Barack Obama and rolled back some of the commerce and travel changes instituted by his predecessor.

"We will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer", Mr. Trump said at the Manuel Artime Theater, named for a former supporter of Fidel Castro who became a leader of Brigade 2506, the land forces that spearheaded the United States-led Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

In December 2014, former USA president Barack Obama announced that the United States would normalize relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of non-engagement and hostilities.

Other members of the luncheon meeting, held in a Miami suburb, expressed disappointment that they were not consulted by USA lawmakers from Florida who helped shape the policy, including Sen.

Trump's new policy will eliminate such self-certified visits by individuals while still allowing them to be done as group tours, and also retaining some individual travel under other authorized categories such as religious, artistic and journalistic activities, officials said. Trump is preparing to tighten at least some of Obama's changes, including restricting business with the Cuban military and U.S.travel that resembles tourism.

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Remittances from people in America to Cubans are not to be cut off.

The policy also allows Americans to continue patronizing state-run hotels and other businesses that are not directly linked with Cuba's military and state-security services.

But he is not reversing key diplomatic and commercial ties.

But he won roars of approval and cries of "Viva Cuba libre!" from the invited crowd of Cuban-Americans and Cuban exiles.

"The president has needlessly provoked a confrontation with Congress on behalf of a shrinking minority who - for reasons that have nothing to do with our national interests - favor turning the clock back to the failed policy of the past", Leahy said.

One observer told CNBC on Tuesday that the change amounted to a clarification of existing policy.

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Cuba is about to receive its first major Russian oil shipment this century, and Moscow has pledged a $2 billion investment in the Cuban railroad. A presidential memorandum gives the government 90 days before it even starts to rewrite Cuba travel regulations, meaning it could be many months before it's clear what the change means for American travelers.

Trump called for changes in Cuba, including the release of political prisoners, the holding of free and fair elections and respect for the freedom of speech and assembly. He's warned that returning to a "get tough" policy hurts everyday Cubans whose livelihoods are increasingly rooted in travel and tourism.

Trump was joined on the trip by vocal critics of Obama's attempt to resume more normal relations with the communist nation.

Trump and the Cuban-American Congress members who helped design the new policy pledged on Friday that it would block the flow of US cash toward military-linked enterprises and direct it toward independent businesses, with the long-term aim of overturning President Raul Castro's government.

He will not close the U.S. embassy in Havana, commercial flights from the USA will continue, and Americans will still be able to return home with Cuban goods. For more than a decade, a diverse coalition that includes worldwide educators has advocated for opening relations with Cuba.

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