No winners in Trump's reversal of US Cuba policy

Pauline Gross
June 17, 2017

He hasn't seen his life improve much since the USA and Cuba re-established friendly relations, but the restart of commercial flights after a half-century gave his wife hope she could afford to visit her 19-year-old son who emigrated to the US two years ago.

He will also leave in place some other tangible changes made by his Democratic predecessor, including the resumption of direct U.S. -Cuba commercial flights, though Trump's more restrictive policy seems certain to dampen new economic ties overall.

President Donald Trump will reshape the United States' Cuba policy with a speech in Miami on Friday, reinstituting some travel restrictions to the island and seeking to block business with the country's military. And there will be limits on Americans' ability to travel to Cuba, a change of which we are less enamored.

The new policy also bans any business transactions with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), but with some exceptions, including air and sea travel, shielding USA airlines and cruise ship companies now serving the island.

Trump is expected to tighten travel restrictions and make moves to put pressure on the Castro regime.

Ferral Rimer wonders why the US would distance itself from Cuba, when it does business with other nations that have questionable human rights records.

Americans will still be able to visit Cuba, though they will need special visas of which enforcement will become much stricter, but they will not be able to spend any money at a business owned by a GAESA, other than a few exceptions, notably airports. Marco Rubio, considered a key participant in the decision-making.

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In constructing this new approach, President Trump engaged with several Departments (Treasury, State, Commerce, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Transportation), members of Congress who are experts on Cuba relations, and other parties on both sides of the political spectrum.

Investigators are also reported to be examining the business interests of the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Ahead of Friday's remarks, the Cuban government - including Cuban President Raul Castro - is signaling a willingness to negotiate with Trump. It will not alter the US trade embargo, which can only be lifted by Congress. The promise helped Trump win support from hard-liners within south Florida's large Cuban American community, an important constituency for Republican presidential candidates for decades.

Rubio is in the forefront of those pushing for change in the Obama rapprochement.

"For the first time, a president is coming to Miami to talk about the Cuban issue", said Humberto Diaz Arguelles, president of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association.

Trump will announce his plan as a human rights act, standing up to and refusing to support a communist regime that controls much of the economy and leaves only pennies on the dollar for its citizens to scrape by.

While campaigning previous year in Miami, which is home to a large Cuban-American population, Trump pledged to reverse Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba unless it met certain "demands", including granting Cubans religious and political freedom, and releasing all political prisoners.

Other reports by GizPress

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