Trump revamps Obama Cuba deal

Ruben Ruiz
June 19, 2017

US President Donald Trump vowed Friday to overhaul Obama's deal, promising to instead support the Cuban people against Raul Castro's government.

"We do not want USA dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba", Trump said in the city's Little Havana neighborhood, which is largely populated by exiles of the small island country, located just 90 miles off the Florida coast.

At the venue where Trump announced his policy changes, the president received a warm welcome from audience members. Payments to numerous Cuban companies owned by the regime's security forces will also be restricted. A new generation is coming to power in Cuba and a new generation of Cuban-Americans is rising in Florida.

Embassies in Havana and Washington will remain open.

Trump criticized former President Barack Obama's policy of not helping Cubans. Trump will justify his partial reversal of Obama's measures to a large extent on those grounds, White House officials said, and some Cuban dissidents back his tougher stance, saying repression has worsened since the detente.

However, despite the rhetoric, the order appears to be less far-reaching than the President claimed, for example, the embassies that opened in Havana and Washington will be maintained, Cuban Americans will be allowed to send money to their families and visit them, and USA companies will be allowed to continue commercial transportation, including flights between the two countries. The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela. "We know what's going on and we remember what happened". While imprisoning innocents, it has harboured cop killers, hijackers and terrorists. "It has supported human trafficking, forced labor and exploitation all around the globe". This is the simple truth of the Castro regime. And we will never, ever be blind to it.

In return, the Cuban-Americans who turned out to welcome him to the symbolic heart of the exile community rewarded Trump with what in turn he seems to want the most: wild applause. "They're getting rich from all these tourists".

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This is the third major Obama-era accomplishment that has been reversed by Trump, who first repealed his predecessor's signature healthcare law "Obamacare" and then went on to announce US' withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate deal. In contentious deliberations leading up to the new policy, some aides argued that Trump, a former real estate magnate who won the presidency vowing to unleash USA business, would have a hard time defending any moves that close off the Cuban market. "Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba".

"There will be little impact on the U.S. economy", said Michael Shifter, a specialist at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based research group.

"I'd like to see a good ambassador down there, not an ideologue", Leahy said.

"The Cuban administration is a violator of human rights as much as some of the people who President Trump has praised and admired on his recent trip, such as the King of Saudi Arabia and the president of Egypt", said Peter Schechter, a Latin America specialist who most recently headed the Atlantic Council's Latin American center. Trump aides say Obama's efforts amounted to "appeasement" and have done nothing to advance political freedoms in Cuba, while benefiting the Cuban government financially.

Machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., whose then-CEO Doug Oberhelman traveled to Cuba past year to lay groundwork for sales in the country, also signaled displeasure with Trump's action.

He notes that more than 600,000 US visitors went to Cuba a year ago, and that AirBnB, which opened in there in 2015, reports $40 million has so far been put into the hands of its private bed-and-breakfast owners.

Other reports by GizPress

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