Trump's changes to US-Cuba relations roil industry

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 20, 2017

While Obama's much-delayed rapprochement with Cuba was applauded by the global community and indeed many people in the USA, the rollback by Trump reflects his bid to restore a failed U.S. policy, a Cold War legacy.

Trump also abrogated Presidential Policy Directive "Normalization of Relations between the United States and Cuba", issued by President Obama on October 14, 2016.

No easing of US sanctions on Cuba, he said, "until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled".

A trio of lawmakers - two Republicans and one Democrat - welcomed President Donald Trump's new policy on Cuba.

In what constitutes a setback in the relations between both countries, President Trump, gave a speech and signed a policy directive titled "National Security Presidential Memorandum", which provides the elimination of private educational "people-to-people" exchanges and greater control over all travelers to Cuba, as well as the prohibition of business, trade and financial transactions between U.S. companies and certain Cuban companies linked to the Armed Revolutionary Forces and the intelligence and security services, under the alleged objective of depriving us from income.

It reopened for the first time in more than 50 years in July 2015 under the Obama administration, and it was then one of the many changes that took place when the US, with help from the Vatican, began to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA, said, "Easing the restrictions on travel to Cuba has enabled USTOA members and customers to see the true Cuba, without regulatory burdens that prior administrations have required".

Still, numerous changes in U.S. policy made by President Barack Obama will remain in place, including the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana and direct travel to the island via cruise ships and airliners.

Though he said that "effective immediately, I'm canceling completely the one-sided deal with Cuba", he announced that the U.S. Embassy would remain open on the island and didn't mention anything about the island nation's embassy in the U.S., which is in Washington.

Still, Rodriguez said, the Cuban government had no intention of meeting Trump's demands, including extraditing US fugitives from justice, like convicted cop killer Assata Shakur.

The pretense that this has anything to do with the Cuban government's abuses and violations of human rights might nearly seem credible if it came from someone else, but coming from the Saudi-embracing, Sisi-praising, Duterte-admiring Trump it is an insulting and blatant exercise in hypocrisy. Many pundits suggested that one of the driving forces for the Obama's change in U.S.

The Cuban foreign minister said Trump's hope of separating the people from the military, who were simply "the people in uniform", was "infantile". Although the policy changes that Trump is proposing are minor, his changes and sharp rhetoric towards Cuba may anger domestic voters as well leaders throughout the hemisphere.

The LA Times commented in an editorial that Trump just reopened the Cold War with Cuba. "We are disappointed that the administration has made a decision to limit Americans' ability to engage in Cuba", said Richard Sawaya, USA*Engage vice president.

Certainly, foreign competitors of USA construction and travel companies are thrilled by this new policy, as it keeps American businesses out of the market.

The ministry said Moscow stands against a policy of embargoes, sanctions and blockades, and that the USA approach over five decades had been shown to be futile.

Trump said he would restrict USA tourist visits to the island, which had increased as part of cultural exchange travel approved by Obama. Even so, the policy change still "has the potential to hurt people - the average people who rent a room or own a snack bar", he says.

Candidate Trump declared, "All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them".

Rodriguez was scathing about Trump's appearance on Friday, saying the president had surrounded himself with the extreme section of the Cuban-American community who he called "mercenaries" and "terrorists".

"The career service people, in the State Department and Treasury and in other places, are not in favor of changing this policy", he added.

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