16 June, 2017
Under the expected changes, the US will ban American financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA, which operates dozens of hotels, tour buses, restaurants and other facilities.
Surely, after more than five decades we have learned that Cubans, proud of their revolution and their independence, will resist economic or military coercion.
Mr. Trump will travel to Miami Friday to announce the policy changes more fully.
"It has not led to greater freedom in Cuba", one official said. Hopefully the administration's new Cuba policy is a step in this direction.
The new policy has come together after contentious meetings within the administration. The vast majority of Americans and the vast majority of Cuban-Americans support free travel to Cuba. Since the policy's end, the number of Cubans risking their lives to cross the Florida Straits or make the trek across Central America has dropped dramatically.
The change in the USA posture toward Cuba under Trump marks the latest policy about-face by the president. One proposal under consideration by the Trump administration, according to the US sources, would tighten enforcement to make sure Americans legally fit the categories they claim to be traveling under, which could spook many visitors, wary of receiving a hefty fine.
Both Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, were vocal during the 2016 campaign about plans to "reverse" the Obama administration's policies toward Cuba, which Trump referred to as a bad deal. This is at best what former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes called a "tragic irony", given the Trump administration's "complete lack of concern for human rights around the world".
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The Obama administration's easing of sanctions allowed approved American hospitality companies such as Starwood to, in effect, rent out rooms, upgrade facilities, hire local workers and conduct business in US dollars through American banks.
What do the Cuban people think? The Trump administration will argue that these businesses fund the oligarchy that runs the Cuban government.
On December 17, 2014, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro made a surprise simultaneous announcement after months of secret talks to swap prisoners and open a dialogue between the long time Cold War foes. However, the administration will take away what it considers a loophole: individual people-to-people visits that were considered educational under the Obama detente. This could have a cooling effect on travel as it adds a potential layer of inconvenience to travelers.
But while certain US businesses have increased their presence in Cuba and USA visitors traveling under general licenses authorizing people-to-people contacts (read: mostly tourism) have increased since 2014, the Castro regime has continued its long-standing practice of brutalizing its own people.
In Miami, a Bay of Pigs veterans group, Brigade 2506, sent out a statement expressing hope that when Trump appears before them on Friday in a scheduled visit to the city, he will announce major changes to Obama's U.S. -Cuba policy. The thaw also allowed Americans to bring more goods back from the island nation. Trump's hatred of Obama is apparent. Vietnam, by the way, is one of those human rights violators that's been given a pass.
Rubio's critics accused him last week of protecting Trump - or whatever Cuba deal was in the works - when Rubio grilled former FBI Director James Comey during a Senate hearing.
"(Cuba) represses dissent and discourages public criticism", Human Rights Watch wrote in a blog post. A newly introduced Senate bill to lift remaining travel restrictions has attracted 54 co-sponsors, including 10 Republicans. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have shown no interest in doing so.
In the last week, seven Republican senators from the Midwest have urged a go-slow approach to reversing the Obama changes. Air Force One is landing at Miami International Airport at 12:30 p.m.