Trump to announce curbs on business with Cuban military

Geneva Matthews
June 16, 2017

That is according to Northwestern University professor Henry Godinez, who is available to comment on President Donald Trump's expected announcement regarding a new Cuba policy that could tighten trade and travel rules, rolling back parts of former President Barack Obama's Cuba policy.

By 2016, Obama had ended certain restrictions on imports from Cuba, namely the US$100 limit on cigars and rum, two of the country's main exports, as well as eased the travel ban which prohibited Americans from visiting the island.

Getting to stroll through the colorful streets of Havana may soon be much harder for Americans.

According to reports by one US official who had seen the president's memorandum on the issue, the rollback will include a tightening of travel restricitons on USA citizens travelling to the island and a restriction on USA business dealings with companies tied to Cuba's military.

From a US business perspective, tightening sanctions on travel and trade with Cuba makes little sense.

Last year more than 600,000 Americans traveled to Cuba, about 74 percent more than the year before.

Critics say the threat of a Treasury audit could have a chilling effect on travel and hurt business for the private-run bed and breakfasts and restaurants Americans often frequent.

The Trump administration is particularly expected to single out GAESA, the Cuban military's business wing.

Taking a tougher approach against Cuba after promising to do so during the presidential campaign, Trump will make clear that a ban on USA tourism to Cuba remains in effect and his administration will beef up enforcement of travel rules under authorized categories, the officials said. Normalizing relations with Cuba is believed to be one of the more notable accomplishments of Obama's legacy.

"We want to strengthen the Cuban people without strengthening the Cuban military", Marco Rubio, the USA senator and former presidential candidate, said yesterday.

In his remarks, Trump plans to cite human-rights violations in Cuba as justification for the new US approach.

"No, I don't think that Trump will undo everything that Obama did, everything that Obama accomplished, let's say", said Wayne Smith, a former US diplomat who was once stationed in Havana. Dissidents say government repression has increased.

Frank Calzon, the president of the nonprofit Center for a Free Cuba, insisted the current policy is not working as they continue to strive for freedom and human rights for the people of a communist nation. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have shown no interest in doing so.

"We will cancel Obama's one-sided Cuban deal", Trump said days before the election in Miami, "if we do not get the deal we want, and the deal that people living in Cuba and here deserve".

"These people are benefitting greatly, not only from Americans spending money, but sharing their ideas with them", said Collin Laverty, founder and president of Cuba Educational Travel. 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.

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