Trump's New Restrictions for Cuba Revealed


"You can't put the genie back in the bottle 100 percent", a top White House official said, pushing back against the questions about whether the changes amount to a "half measure" and not a full reversal of Obama's Cuba policies.

Another official told the Associated Press the U.S. embassy in Havana will remain open but trade with any Cuban entity linked to the military will be banned. The trips were made easier by the resumption of scheduled commercial air service from the USA for the first time in decades. While fact sheets and details have been released to different lawmakers and interest groups, an administration official said Thursday that they are still finalizing the policy.

Educational trips and so-called "people-to-people" group exchanges will be under greater scrutiny, with educational groups once again having to travel with a guide from a USA organization sponsoring the trip, a requirement the Obama policy had effectively eliminated.

Former President Barack Obama made it easier to travel to Cuba, do business there, re-established diplomatic relations with the island nation, and ended the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that gave Cuban illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

To Ferrer, in her fourth year of Latin American studies at the University of Florida, such a move would squander years of progress towards a normalisation of relations between the countries - and rob many Cubans on the island their chance to rise above poverty. "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".

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President Trump will outline the new rules tomorrow.

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

Protesters who support easing restrictions on Cuba - saying that more engagement with the island is a better bet to undermine the regime - are expected to mass outside the theater in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood where Trump is expected to speak.

During a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington would continue trade and ties with Cuba only if the Cuban government meets U.S. demands in the area of human rights.

A recent poll by agency Insight Cuba indicates that six out of 10 Americans plan to visit the island in the next two years, a figure that could increase US visitors to nearly 2 million annually.

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Surely, after more than five decades we have learned that Cubans, proud of their revolution and their independence, will resist economic or military coercion.

Various business and advocacy groups, however, including Human Rights Watch, remain opposed to any reining back.

Bloomberg reported last July that Trump Organization executives had visited Cuba on several occasions in recent years, including to visit a golf course, despite US restrictions on commercial ventures.

The new policy has come together after contentious meetings within the administration. Travelers returning from Cuba may not be able to bring unlimited amounts of rum and cigars for personal consumption, as they could since the final months of the Obama administration. "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.

Trump will formally unveil the new Cuba policy at a speech in Miami Friday.

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Reduced passenger traffic between the USA and Cuba would harm major American corporations such as American Airlines, Carnival Cruise Line, Starwood, Airbnb, Expedia, Western Union, and AT&T, all of whom have an established foothold on the island.