Shift in Cuba policy would be failure for U.S., says expert — Interview

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.

United States President Donald Trump has revamped Washington's friendly overtures towards Cuba, tightening several restrictions that were eased by his predecessor Barack Obama.

"It has not led to greater freedom in Cuba", one official said.

The number of Americans traveling to Cuba, mostly in large groups because of US regulations, has almost tripled in recent years and was expected to reach around 400,000 in 2017, according to agencies. The moves may include new limits on travel and investment policies.

Embassies will remain open and travel and money sent by Cubans will be unaffected, the Herald reported.

It seems unlikely that Trump will revert all of Obama's executive orders regarding Cuba, as the president promised at the end of the 2016 campaign.

Trump's new policy will eliminate such visits by individuals while still allowing them to be done as group tours, and also retaining individual travel under other authorized categories such as religious, artistic and journalistic activities, the official said. "The previous administration was right to reject a policy that hurt ordinary Cubans and did nothing to advance human rights", said Daniel Wilkinson, HRW's managing director for the America.

The measures are also backed by Senator Marco Rubio. Raul Castro steps down in early 2018.

Florida was a key state in Trump's stunning Electoral College victory in 2016, and the Cuban-American community is politically influential in the state. This could have a cooling effect on travel as it adds a potential layer of inconvenience to travelers.

The Trump directive will try to police travel to Cuba to stop illegal tourism, but, officials said, Americans traveling to Cuba can still bring back cigars.

The new policy will ban most USA business deals with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), a sprawling conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, but make exceptions related to air and sea travel, the officials said.

"But you also have people like me, the third generations who are going back, and the people on the island, so excited and loving, the most generous people I ever met".

Some business groups, meanwhile, lobbied the Trump administration to keep the Obama rules in place, including hotel and airline interest seeking to expand business into the island.

That's a pretty hefty human rights issue, too. "Prior to that, it was not clear to some if the Obama policy toward Cuba would work; today it is clear that the Obama policy toward Cuba does not", the statement noted.

And human rights in Cuba do matter, of course.

"We had dinner with Sen".

Rubio's embrace of Trump on Cuba is a slight break for the Florida senator, who has been a harsh critic of Trump's views policy toward hotbed areas like Asia, the Middle East and Russian Federation, and has faulted Trump's comments about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Cuba will soon have a new generation of leaders, one way or another.

A return to the past could characterize Trump's announcement that fulfills a promise he made in his election campaign previous year. "We want to empower and we want to strengthen the Cuban people without strengthening the Cuban military, which controls a significant percentage of their economy", Rubio said.

He reiterated this point on Twitter after winning the election.

A Cuban official told CNN that the country is not anxious about new restrictions on cigars, because it will simply sell them elsewhere.

  • Annette Adams