Russia says Trump is using 'Cold War rhetoric' on Cuba

by Abel Hampton June 19, 2017, 0:13

Laying out his new Cuba policy in a speech in Miami, Trump will issue a presidential directive to reverse some of the loosened regulations that Obama introduced after a 2014 breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes, senior White House officials said.

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House in Washington, Friday, June 16, 2017, after speaking about Cuba policy in Miami.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said Trump's policy moves the US backward.

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 United States business, would have a hard time defending any moves that close off the Cuban market. 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.

The Cuban government, which has made clear it will not be pressured into reforms, had no immediate comment. In a statement on state television it denounced the measures, but said Havana "reiterates its willingness to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation".

It went on to list a litany of concerns: racial discrimination, salary inequality between genders, the marginalization of immigrants and refugees from Islamic and other countries, Trump's proposed wall on the southern border, his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, the imprisonment of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, the killing of U.S. and foreign citizens in drone attacks, the preface for and conduct of the wars in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, and estimates that the Republican health care bill would cause 23 million people to lose medical insurance.

"Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law", he told a cheering crowd in Miami's Little Havana, the spiritual home of the Cuban-American community.

"We know they have a different view of the world", a Cuban official told CNN.

"All the Trump administration is saying is, 'there's one thing we're going to change, and that is we're no longer going to permit individual travelers to purport to be traveling to Cuba under the education exemption, '" said Harry Clark, a partner at Orrick and chair of the law firm's global trade and compliance group.

"Any strategy to change the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether through pressure. or through more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure".

Mr Trump cast that as a sign the USA still wanted to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much stronger and better path".

Meanwhile, it says travel and tourism contributed $9bn to the Cuban economy a year ago, accounting for just shy of 10% of the country's GDP.

GAESA now operates the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, one of the first USA hotels to open on the island in decades. USA airlines and cruise ships will still be allowed to serve the island 90 miles south of Florida.

As it stands, the USA officially recognizes the Cuban government. And Cuban-Americans will be able to continue to visit their family in Cuba and send them remittances, according to a fact sheet.

But individual "people-to-people" trips by Americans to Cuba, allowed by Obama for the first time in decades, will again be prohibited. Travelers relying on the educational activities license will need to travel with a tour group that will ensure that they maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities. He is not going to encourage any new trade sanctions.

Under the new regulations, Americans will no longer be able to take private trips to the island, and USA companies and citizens will be barred from doing business with entities controlled by Cuban government agencies, including its military and security services.

The Cuban media called Trump's new foreign policy on Cuba "regrettable" and "archaic".

"You went out and you voted, and here I am, like I promised".

Trump on Friday laid out his new Cuba policy that tightens rules on Americans travelling to Cuba and bars USA individuals and companies from doing commerce with Cuban businesses owned by the Cuban military, Efe news reported.

Benjamin Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for Obama who led secret negotiations with Cuban officials that led to the rapprochement, said Trump's moves would undermine his stated objectives, pushing the Cubans into the arms of the Chinese and Russians, who have no restrictions on their dealings there, and emboldening hard-liners in the country who are opposed to moving toward democracy.

Trump's declaration in a crowded, sweltering auditorium was a direct rebuke to Obama, for whom the diplomatic opening with Cuba was a central accomplishment of his presidency.

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