Russia says Trump is using 'Cold War rhetoric' on Cuba

During a speech in Little Havana, the epicenter of a Cuban exile community that enthusiastically supported him in last year's election, Trump said he was keeping a campaign promise to roll back the policy of engagement begun by President Barack Obama in 2014, which he said had empowered the communist government in Cuba and enriched the country's repressive military.

Mr Trump on Friday announced a plan to tighten rules on Americans travelling to communist-run Cuba and significantly restrict U.S. firms from doing business with Cuban enterprises controlled by the military.

However, despite the rhetoric, the order appears to be less far-reaching than the President claimed, for example, the embassies that opened in Havana and Washington will be maintained, Cuban Americans will be allowed to send money to their families and visit them, and US companies will be allowed to continue commercial transportation, including flights between the two countries.

"All the Trump administration is saying is, 'there's one thing we're going to change, and that is we're no longer going to permit individual travelers to purport to be traveling to Cuba under the education exemption, '" said Harry Clark, a partner at Orrick and chair of the law firm's worldwide trade and compliance group.

"The Cuban government denounces the new measures hardening the blockade that are destined to fail. and that will not achieve their aim of weakening the revolution", Havana said.

The rules apply to all "persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction", which includes foreign visitors planning to fly from America to Cuba.

Although officials said Trump's plans were not meant to "disrupt existing transactions that have (already) occurred", the new policy would make it hard for any American company to expand their footprint in Cuba. But it makes some exceptions, including for air and sea travel, according to United States officials. USA airlines and cruise ships would still be allowed to service the island.

President Donald Trump speaks about Cuba policy, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Miami.

Cuba functioned as a virtual USA colony for much of the 20th century, and even reform-minded Cubans are highly sensitive to perceived US infringements on national sovereignty.

Trump is going to restrict USA citizens travel to Cuba, seeking to prevent people from going to the island as tourists, which is forbidden by law but was easily sidestepped under Obama.

The White House told the Post that the shift wasn't meant to "disrupt existing transactions that have [already] occurred", and a Trump Hotels spokesperson emphasized that it is "not doing any deals internationally".

In practical terms, Mr. Trump's review of the deal was limited. Among them was Jos Daniel Ferrer Garc a, head of the Cuban Patriotic Union, the largest opposition group in Cuba, who was among the dissidents Obama met past year in Cuba. But because Cuban rules requires tour groups to have government guides and use state-run tour buses, the requirement has given the Cuban government near-total control of travelers' itineraries and funneled much of their spending to state enterprises. Castro's government has clearly stated it does not intend to change its one-party political system.

Casting the Obama administration as people who looked the other way on the Castro regime's human rights violations, Trump said that he, as President, will "expose the crimes of the Castro regime". 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, will remain terminated.

The Cuban government, which has made clear it will not be pressured into reforms, had no immediate comment.

Applauding the Cuban dissidents in the audience, some of whom were tortured by the Castro regime, Trump pledged to "expose" the Cuban dictatorship for its human rights abuses.

"The United States is in no condition to give us lessons", the Cuban statement said.

"Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law", he told a cheering crowd in Miami's Little Havana, the spiritual home of the Cuban- American community.

The Cuban leader added that "the USA is not in a position to give us lessons", voicing "serious concerns" on the "numerous cases of murders, brutality and police abuses, the exploitation of child labour, racial discrimination and restrictions on healthcare services".

The US president framed it as a move against a "cruel and brutal" regime: bypassing the state military-run business group GAESA to channel investment to the people.

Mexico's foreign ministry urged the United States and Cuba to resolve their differences "via dialogue".

"His speech was aggressive and threatening, . revealing his contempt and ignorance", President Nicolas Maduro said in a speech. "It is an offence against Latin America". And the US government will police other trips to ensure travelers are pursuing a "full-time schedule of educational exchange activities". "The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people". But the Republican leadership in Congress has long blocked such a move, and it appears unlikely to budge.

The changes that Trump has announced will have an impact on the Cuban economy within three months, once the new regulations are put in place. He announced the strict rules to the Americans whose wish is to visit Cuba while signing a new National Security Presidential Memorandum.



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