On Friday, June 16, President Donald Trump ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba, plus a clampdown on U.S. business dealings with the Island country’s military. According to fortune.com, Trump said that, “with God’s help a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve.
In a speech in Miami, the administration indicated that it plans to roll back certain parts of former President Barack Obama’s historic opening to the communist country.
However, Obama re-opened the U.S. embassy in Havana, and Trump plans to leave it open.
Trump’s revised Cuban policy, a new presidential directive, calls for stricter enforcement of a longtime ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists, and seeks to prevent U.S. dollars from being used to fund what the new U.S. administration sees as a repressive military-dominated government.
Also, according to fortune.com, the president faced pressure from U.S. businesses and even some Republicans to avoid turning back completely, the directives Obama set in place with the communist regime. Thus, while the president has changed some things about Obama’s agreement with Cuba, Trump’s Cuban policy has also left some things in place.
The new Cuban policy bans most U.S. business transactions with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group, a Cuban conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, but makes some exceptions, including for air and sea travel. Also, the administration has no intention of disrupting existing business ventures such as one struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels, which is owned by Marriott International, Inc., to manage a historic Havana hotel.
According to the Washington Examiner, Americans will still be able to travel to Cuba under approved categories without first checking with the federal government. However, the president intends to eliminate the “people to people” travel to Cuba program on an individual basis. Under the Obama administration, individuals could assert on their own to go to Cuba by indicating, individually, that their trip was educational in nature. According to the White House, the president thinks that the type of arrangement instituted by Obama would make it too easy for people to visit Cuba as tourists, which is still illegal under U.S. law. Supporters of the ban say tourism helps direct dollars to the repressive government on the island. However, the “people to people” traveling in groups will still be allowed.
Also, President Trump does not plan to reinstate the limits on the amount of the island’s coveted rum and cigars that Americans can bring home for personal use.
According to the Washington Examiner, the President vowed to reverse the Obama administration’s policies toward Cuba that have enriched the Cuban military regime and increased the repression on the island, per one official.
Trump’s readjustment of the United States policy toward Cuba targets the repressive members of the Cuban military government, as one official put it, and not the Cuban people.
Officials said that the tighter new Cuban policy should be seen by Cuba as pressure aimed at getting Cuba to expedite the release of U.S. fugitives living in Cuba, respect human rights, and move toward free and fair elections.
Trump’s new Cuban policy will also keep in place Obama’s decision to end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which gave Cubans a path toward permanent residency if they arrived in the United States. Obama said at the time that the policy unfairly gave preference to one group of immigrants over others.
Note: The information in this article was taken from fortune.com and washingtonexaminer.com.