Trump keeps much of Obama's Cuba policy

Trump keeps much of Obama's Cuba policyā€¯

The shift - coming on the two-year anniversary of Trump announcing his candidacy - takes aim at President Barack Obama's 2014 decision to end decades of detachment from the island nation, and bans USA business with the military-run conglomerate that controls much of Cuba's economy.

MIAMI (AP) - Many Cuban exiles in Miami are embracing the changes President Donald Trump announced Friday to his predecessor's policies of engagement with the communist island - but some want even more.

Cuba's 1470-word statement Friday night labeled Trump a hypocrite for calling on Cuba to improve human rights, saying the US government "is threatening more limits on healthcare that would leave 23 million people without insurance. and marginalizes immigrants and refugees, particular those from Islamic countries".

Mr Trump based his partial reversal of Obama's Cuba measures largely on human rights grounds. "He made that very clear in this speech, going after the Castro regime time and again accusing the government in Havana of rounding up innocent people, putting them behind bars purely for political reasons".

"US private-sector engagement can be a positive force for the kind of change we all wish to see in Cuba, " said Myron Brilliant, the group's executive vice president and head of global affairs.

"This is bad policy, bad politics and bad for US business", Williams said.

The policy risks harming independent business people by restoring a requirement for most American travelers to visit Cuba as part of tightly regulated tour groups. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities created to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans. It allowed unimpeded travel for Cuban pastors outside of Cuba he said and also for humanitarian aid to be shipped to churches. Reliable statistics are hard to come by, but Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C. and co-author of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana, told Mic that "about 60 percent of the tourist agencies are linked to GAESA". American visitors still allowed to bring back all the rum and cigars they can manage.

Here's a look at a dozen changes in policy undertaken during the Obama era and how they stack up against the new policy announced by Trump.

Trump's vow to keep the broader decades-old US economic embargo on Cuba firmly in place drew criticism from some USA farmers, especially growers of corn, soybeans and rice. The previous administration's easing of restrictions of travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. He justified the increased restrictions on the basis of human rights violations.

When Obama announced the detente in 2014, he said that decades of US efforts to achieve change in Cuba by isolating the island had failed and it was time to try a new approach.

The venue is named after a leader of the failed US -backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 against Fidel Castro's revolutionary government.

The president's directive aims to ensure that USA funds are not "channeled to a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society". Once implemented Trump's policy is expected to curtail United States travel by creating a maze of rules for Americans to obey. US travelers are engaging in what amounts to illegal tourism, but they are also pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts that are driving the growth of Cuba's nascent private sector. Marco Rubio, another Florida Republican, have shown no interest in doing so.

In his speech, Trump mentioned the lack of political and religious freedom for the Cuban people, as well as the release of political prisoners.

While Trump's new policy avoids the worst-case scenario of cancelling all commercial flights or severing diplomatic relations, it will still be a blow to a tourism sector betting on Cuba as a new high-growth market.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption President Trump met Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in May 2. We will stand with the Cuban people in the struggle for freedom.

US and Cuba announced they would restore diplomatic relations and reopen their respective embassies.

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