Trump set to roll back Obama policy on Cuba

Posted June 17, 2017

When asked why the administration is setting up stricter regulations on trade and travel with Cuba over human rights after visiting Saudi Arabia during Mr Trump's first official visit overseas, White House officials said that the administration plans on fighting for human rights.

It also indicates that the new administration will not reinstate the wet foot, dry foot policy, which allowed Cuban immigrants who reached American soil to remain in the country.

While tourism to Cuba is banned by United States law, the Obama administration had been allowing people to travel to Cuba as part of "people to people" educational trips for visitors, a classification that a White House official said was "ripe for abuse" by those looking for beach vacations. He's expected to unveil his policy in a speech Friday in Miami.

Cuban diplomat Josefina Vidal told the Miami Herald more than 600,000 Americans visited the island past year, a 34 percent jump from 2014.

But now, if US citizens want to travel for any of those exempt reasons, according to the Herald they will have to provide detailed records and plans showing what they will be doing while in Cuba and keep extensive records of all financial transactions within Cuba for five years to make available for the Treasury Department if requested.

That includes restricting transactions by USA citizens with hotels and other entities associated with the Cuban military. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities created to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans.

How will the Cuban government respond?

Obama eliminated the tour requirement, allowing tens of thousands of Americans to book solo trips and spend their money with individual bed-and-breakfast owners, restaurants and taxi drivers.

Cuban-Americans will still be able to travel to Cuba and send remittances, limiting the impact on residents of Florida, where many Cuban emigres settled.

It outlines President Trump's pushback on Obama Administration initiatives, which weakened the longstanding economic US embargo on Cuba.

The source said Trump will also announce stricter enforcement of rules under which Americans can travel to Cuba, detailed in a broader National Security Presidential Memorandum.

The policy will direct related departments to start working on these rules within 30 days, but one official said, however, that once the legislating process begins, the process will "take as long as it takes".

The new limits on USA business deals will target the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), a conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, including hotels, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

These changes will affect Cuba's burgeoning tourist industry that has lured Americans who had always been attracted by the island just 90 miles from Florida but impossibly out of reach thanks to long-standing sanctions.

Trump has been a longtime critic of the Obama administration's dealings with the Castro regime.

Cuba functioned as a virtual USA colony for much of the 20th century, and even reform-minded Cubans are highly sensitive to perceived US infringements on national sovereignty. It spent subsequent decades trying to either overthrow the Cuban government or isolate the island, including toughening an economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Engage Cuba, a group lobbying for an end to the embargo, estimates that 10,000 U.S. jobs in aviation and the cruise business already depend on Cuba.

The main authors of the new policy were Cuban-American Republicans in Congress, including Florida Sens.

He has repeatedly blasted Mr Obama for his "bad deal" with Cuba and says the two-year rapprochement is a failed policy of appeasement.

Among the new restrictions likely to impact Americans, Trump will prohibit individual educational trips to Cuba.

The administration said it wanted to end business transactions that benefited the Castro regime while the Cuban people get squat in return.

In 2014, President Obama opened up tentative relations with the island of Cuba in hopes of thawing out old and outdated Cold War-era animosities between the two countries.

Airline companies were less forthcoming ahead of the announcement.