President Donald Trump on Friday will tighten rules on Americans traveling to Cuba and significantly restrict USA companies from doing business with Cuban enterprises controlled by the military, according to US officials who have seen a draft presidential memorandum.
"All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them - and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands", the Herald reported Trump as saying. The policy will maintain diplomatic relations and allow US airlines and cruise ships to continue servicing the island.
But Trump is expected to make it tougher for Americans to visit and do business on the island while blasting Cuba's alleged human right abuses and harboring of USA fugitives.
While such restrictions may not fully cut certain institutions within the Cuban government off from benefits associated with increased USA business in Cuba, they will limit how much profit these entities see.
Under Trump's new travel restrictions, commerce with businesses run by the military branch of the Cuban army will be strictly forbidden.
Under the expected changes, the US will ban American financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA, which operates dozens of hotels, tour buses, restaurants and other facilities. And they will saddle the USA government with the complicated task of policing U.S.travel to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy.
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The new Cuba policy will prohibit transactions with businesses controlled by the Cuban regime, will only allow Americans to travel to Cuba as a part of a tour group, and reiterate the importance of extraditing fugitives, according to senior administration officials who briefed members of the press Thursday.
This policy would be similar to the previous policy which the Obama Administration eventually lifted, although the State Department was the government agency auditing and monitoring that travelers met requirements for Cuba. How big the changes in policy will be, however, remains to be seen.
According to his remarks, Trump will cite the Cuban human rights violations as his reasoning for the new policy.
Bringing back Cuban cigars, even for those who had government permission to visit the island, was long illegal. Although Trump lost the Miami area to Hillary Clinton by double digits, he credits support from Cuban-Americans for helping him eke out a narrow victory statewide.
General diplomatic relations with Cuba would continue and embassies re-opened in Washington and Havana would remain.
Polls suggest most Americans support the liberalized policy towards Cuba pushed by the Obama administration. "Likewise, Americans should be allowed to travel to other nations and serve as diplomats who can spread our soft power overseas". Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart say more sanctions are needed.