Last week, President Donald Trump stood before a large crowd in Little Havana - located in Miami, Florida - to announce immediate changes to the agreement implemented by Barack Obama to "normalize" relations between America and Communist Cuba. Mr. Trump's new measures mainly relate to stricter enforcement of existing laws that had begun to loosen as Mr. Obama sought a rapprochement.
Over the last months the uptake in travel from the USA to Cuba has not been as high as expected, primarily as hotel capacity has not kept up with the demand, leading to some of the U.S. airlines cutting back capacity to the island. Trump is catering to Cuban-Americans opposed to any interaction with the Castro government, he says, and human rights "are simply used for justifying" the change.
Backers of Obama's policy argue tightening travel restrictions will reduce U.S. tourism and only hurt the very small businesses Trump hopes to help.
In turn, airlines and US hotel chains began investing resources in Cuba, while chicken, grain and other agricultural producers from the USA exported tons of products to Cuba.
U.S. President Donald Trump's speech on Cuba was a "grotesque spectacle" straight out of the Cold War and will strengthen patriotism on the island, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at a news conference on Monday. Nevertheless, over the past five months Trump has revealed another facet in his approach to foreign policy: clarifying who the United States' enemies are and hostility toward them rather than accommodation. Marco Rubio (R), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian Federation, and Miami Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a key member of the House appropriations committee. He described these policies as one- sided and said that the ban on tourism would be enforced as would the embargo. After his remarks, Trump signed an order directing the Treasury Department to make the changes.
The US president framed it as a move against a "cruel and brutal" regime: bypassing the state military-run Business Administration Group (GAESA) to channel investment to the people. Grupo de Administracion Empresarial SA, known as GAESA, a state-run, military-affiliated conglomerate, owns nearly all of the retail chains in Cuba and 57 of the mainly foreign-run hotels on the island.
When I responded that no, I was an "Americano" she smiled and said "aqui, todos somos Americanos" which translates as "Here, we are all Americans" - reassuring me that despite the walls we may build between us - whether political or bricks and mortar - all the people of this American Continent, from Canada to California and from Cuba to Colombia are indeed "Americans". Cruise ships and airlines will also be exempted.
Polls showed that most Americans - even many Miami exiles - agreed that the USA embargo on Cuba was outdated. This general license authorized United States travelers to visit Cuba on cultural trips without the need to purchase often-costly guided tours.
Trump has called for the strictest application of all USA law regarding tourism to Cuba, trade, and investment. "While this announcement is a setback, we will continue to advocate toward Cuba travel freedom and look forward to the day it becomes reality".
Trump will also exempt banking transactions and fees, allowing Americans to continue to rent private properties such as those offered through AirBnB.
If you want to travel to Cuba or invest in Cuba, your actions must benefit the ordinary Cuban people.
Diaz-Balart, as The Daily Caller originally reported in May, traded his vote on the American Health Care Act to gain concessions from Trump on his Cuba policy.
Moreover, none of the changes will go into immediate effect.
Grandfather Provisions for Pre-Existing Commitments - OFAC FAQs indicate that the forthcoming regulations will be prospective and thus will not affect travel arrangements or commercial engagements in place prior to the issuance of the new regulations.