Trump restores some Cuba penalties, rejecting ‘oppressors’

The Arizona Republican says any policy change “that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people”.But those who favor a greater opening with Cuba say the president’s decision is a setback for improved relations and business.” US airlines and cruise ships will still be allowed to service the island”.However, Trump will stop short of closing embassies or breaking diplomatic relations restored in 2015 after more than five decades of hostilities.Trump’s changes in Cuba policy include prohibiting “financial transactions, including transactions incidental to travel with GAESA and its affiliates, subsidiaries, and successors”, CNN reported. Trump’s order simply instructs his administration to begin drafting new rules within 30 days, with no set timeline for completion.”By rolling back reforms that have benefited USA citizens, everyday Cubans and our economy, we are taking a step backward, not forward”, he said in a statement.Trump will justify his partial reversal of Obama’s measures to a large extent on human rights grounds. Marco Rubio made clear his support for the changes and said how many will characterize it as a way to punish the Cuba regime but it will also empower the people of Cuba.President Donald Trump declared Friday he was restoring some travel and economic restrictions on Cuba that were lifted as part of the Obama administration’s historic easing. “You would be hard pressed to find a Cuban living on the island who would say that US engagement has not improved their lives”.’With the establishment of direct flights, cruise lines, and broadened authorization for travel to Cuba, the number of Americans visiting increased 50 percent to over 500,000 in 2016, ‘ he wrote. Senior White House officials said Obama’s overtures have enriched Cuba’s military.He stated that polls show that over 70 percent of USA citizens, including a majority of Republicans, support lifting the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington on Cuba.His critics, however, have questioned why his administration is now singling out Cuba for human rights abuses but downplaying the issue in other parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, a close US ally Trump visited last month where political parties and protests are banned.At Cafe Versailles in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, reactions to President Trump’s proposed policies range from approval to distaste. But none of the changes will become effective until the Treasury and Commerce departments issue new regulations, which could take months.”U.S. private sector engagement can be a positive force for the kind of change we all wish to see in Cuba”, said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and head of global affairs.”For almost six decades, the Cuban people have suffered under communist domination”, Trump said. It retains some individual travel under other categories such as religious, artistic and journalistic activities, officials said.USA officials told reporters that he will announce a prohibition on “financial transactions” with Cuba’s military-backed tourism conglomerate GAESA, a body which might otherwise have hoped for a windfall from long absent American visitors.But other advisers have contended that it is important to make good on a campaign promise to Cuban-Americans.