Trump to clamp down on Cuba travel, trade, curbing Obama's detente

Supporters of US President Donald Trump demonstrate in Miami as the he vows to roll back a deal re-opening trade ties with Havana

Supporters of US President Donald Trump demonstrate in Miami as the he vows to roll back a deal re-opening trade ties with Havana

Despite his claim to be cancelling the deal, Trump's rhetoric took a tougher line than his policy shift as he left in place much of Obama's policy, such as the reopening of diplomatic ties and the elimination of preferences for Cuban immigrants.

Back from Miami where my Cuban/American friends are very happy with what I signed today.

More than a year ago, former President Barack Obama loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba, allowing individuals and groups to go to the island nation for educational purposes.

He announced plans to restrict US businesses and citizens from doing business with Cuban companies owned by the country's military - amounting to vast swaths of the island nation's economy, experts said - and to forbid American individuals from traveling to Cuba while also imposing additional restrictions on group tours.

The statement added that Trump had been "poorly advised" to favour the political interests of an "extremist minority" of Cuban-Americans living in Florida, who, because of "petty motivations, will not give up on their ambition of punishing Cuba".

And while his policy has the stated aim of helping the country's nascent private sector, it contains a measure that could damage thousands of small-business people who host, feed and transport independent American travelers to Cuba. Trump's approach is aimed at halting the flow of US cash to the country's military while maintaining diplomatic relations.

"This will be the first time in several decades that the Cuban people will have an economic advantage over the Cuban military".

"The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people, they only enrich the Cuban regime", he said.

Embassies in Havana and Washington are to remain open. US airlines and cruise ships will still be allowed to serve the island 90 miles south of Florida.

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Under Trump's order, the Treasury and Commerce Departments will be given 30 days to begin writing new regulations and they will not take effect until they are complete.

The policy also allows Americans to continue patronizing state-run hotels and other businesses that are not directly linked with Cuba's military and state-security services.

The Cuban media called Trump's new foreign policy on Cuba "regrettable" and "archaic". Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, when governor of Georgia in 2010, led a delegation to Cuba and said at the time to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I think business cures a lot of ills".

The statement continues, "The Cuban government denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are destined to fail as has been shown repeatedly in the past, and which will not achieve its objective to weaken the revolution or to defeat the Cuban people, whose resistance to the aggressions of any type and origin has been proven over nearly six decades".

Nor are there plans to reinstate limits that Obama lifted on the amount of the island's coveted rum and cigars that Americans can bring home for personal use.

"The Cuban regime will always find an excuse to blame the USA government", she said.

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.

"When he's cutting back on travel, he's hurting us, the Cuban entrepreneurs", said Camilo Diaz, a 44-year-old waiter in a restaurant in Havana.

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