Friday, 20 October, 2017

Not much new in Trump's Cuba policy

Saul Franklin | 18 June, 2017, 01:57

"Once again, the US Government is resorting to its coercive methods of the past", the Cuban government outlined in an official statement issued on national TV.

The government has though repeated its desire to engage in "respectful dialogue" with Washington. "Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba".

But while Mr. Trump's six-page directive signed following his speech on Friday will somewhat temper Cuba's burgeoning tourism product, it keeps in place most of the key policies implemented by Mr. Obama.

Trump said he would restrict USA tourist visits to the island, which had increased as part of cultural exchange travel approved by Obama.

The White House is announcing limitations on travel by individuals to the island and ordering the US Treasury Department and other agencies to put in place regulations to prohibit direct payments to Cuba's military and intelligence services.

The "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which once let most Cuban migrants stay if they made it to USA soil but was terminated under Obama, is to remain terminated. Despite bitter criticism and personal attacks, most have continued to operate, many with a degree of support from US individuals and foundations that would have been impossible before the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.

Trump's revised approach calls for stricter enforcement of a longtime ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists, and seeks to prevent United States dollars from being used to fund what the Trump administration sees as a repressive military-dominated government.

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Hundreds of millions of USA dollars flowed into privately owned businesses in Cuba, The Associated Press reported, spurring the growth of a nascent middle-class that could thrive independent from the government.

The Cuban media called Trump's new foreign policy on Cuba "regrettable" and "archaic".

While anti-Castro conservatives hailed Trump's partial roll-back of President Barack Obama's detente, a number of other GOP lawmakers, particularly from farm states, criticized the change as misguided and isolationist.

Cuban state newspaper Granma, a mouthpiece of the regime, said Trump's measures heralded "a return to the Cold War".

"We want this relationship to be one in which we can encourage the Cuban people through economic interaction".

President Donald Trump signs an executive order on a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of USA cash to the country's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Miami. But it makes some exceptions, including for air and sea travel, according to U.S. officials.

The Cuban government rebuked those statements in a lengthy response Friday, writing that Trump's executive order betrays a double standard on human rights. "We will enforce the embargo", the United States president said. "The Cuban people will continue deciding themselves on the changes necessary for Cuba". "On the other hand, we think we've achieved very little in terms of changing the behavior of the regime in Cuba and its treatment of people", he said, "and it has little incentive to change that". "The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people", Trump said, "they only enrich the Cuban regime". The US president has been accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, several cabinet members, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, congressmen of Cuban origin like Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz Balart and Carlos Curbelo and representatives of Cuban dissidents, Trump mentioned the Dissidents Jose Daniel Ferrer and Berta Soler, who were not allowed to travel to Miami, but "are here with us".

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