Trump rolls back some, not all, changes in US-Cuba relations

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 29, 2017

President Donald Trump's announcement of a tougher line toward Cuba has delighted hardliners on the island, who say it reveals the long-held usa aim of imposing American will on Cuba and justifies their wariness toward Washington. "After detente the people felt hopeful but there were no changes". The previous administration's easing of restrictions of travel and trade does not help the Cuban people.

The move is created to target the repressive elements of the Cuban regime over human rights concerns and not the Cuban people, said officials, who briefed reporters ahead of the announcement on the condition they not be named.

Trump's revised approach, which will be enshrined in a new presidential directive, calls for stricter enforcement of a longtime ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists and seeks to prevent US dollars from being used to fund what the new USA administration sees as a repressive military-dominated government.

The Cuban leader added that "the U.S. is not in a position to give us lessons", voicing "serious concerns" on the "numerous cases of murders, brutality and police abuses, the exploitation of child labour, racial discrimination and restrictions on healthcare services".

And deciding to unveil the policy in Miami suggests it will please the hardline Cuban exiles whose support Trump considered significant to winning Florida, and the presidency.

But he is not reversing key diplomatic and commercial ties.

Trump was not especially interested in USA policy on Cuba early on in his campaign.

"By requiring Americans to travel in tour groups, the administration is not only making it more expensive for everyday Americans to travel to the island, but pushing them away from staying in private homes - which are unable to accommodate large tour groups - and into state run hotels", said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba.

Even as Trump predicted a quick end to Cuban President Raul Castro's regime, he challenged Cuba to negotiate better agreements for Americans, Cubans and those whose identities lie somewhere in between. For one, embassies will remain open to continue diplomatic relations reignited after years of hostility.

But individual "people-to-people" trips by Americans to Cuba, allowed by Obama for the first time in decades, will again be prohibited. The Cuban government has violated human rights for more than 50 years, and I applaud the president's efforts to maintain political pressure on a regime that stands in contrast with the very values of the United States.

"We will respect Cuban sovereignty", he said, "but we will never turn our backs on the Cuban people".

But there will also be collateral damage in American farm states that see Havana as a hot market for US agricultural products.

Cuba functioned as a virtual US colony for much of the 20th century, and even reform-minded Cubans are highly sensitive to perceived USA infringements on national sovereignty.

Obama announced in December 2014 that he and Castro were restoring ties.

Members of Cuba's small but vibrant independent civil society say they fear the new policy will do more harm than good.

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