Trump Keeps Much Of Obama's Cuba Policy

by Garry Watts June 18, 2017, 0:06

MIAMI (AP) - Pressing "pause" on a historic detente, President Donald Trump thrust the us and Cuba back on a path toward open hostility Friday with a blistering denunciation of the island's communist government.

"The Cuban statement said that Trump "justified that policy with alleged concerns over the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously apply" the trade embargo and blockade against the island, which Obama had relaxed".

To avoid alienating the Cuban-American community, which largely votes Republican, Trump will not re-implement limits on remittances - USA based money transfers - that Cuban-Americans can give their families back on the island.

USA companies active in Cuba have complained about the threat to business - such as the Starwood hotel chain which past year opened a Sheraton in Havana.

"The growth of the private sector was linked to tourist demand which was growing in part due to the flow of U.S. tourists", said Vidal. Cuban officials have warned that the limited intelligence sharing between Havana and Washington may stall considering Trump's announcement.

"Any strategy to change the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether through pressure. or through more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure".

Trump cast that as a sign the United States still wanted to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much stronger and better path".

Many recent changes to boost ties to Cuba will stay as they are, and Trump still wants to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much stronger and better path".

Cuba gave Shakur political asylum and officials in Havana say they won't send her back.

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"More travel, more communications access, and more dialogue with Cuba are the way forward for human rights in Cuba", Amnesty International wrote in a blog post, adding that Obama's trip to Cuba last year opened the door to "scrutiny and transparency" of human rights on the island for the first time in almost 10 years.

"There will be little impact on the U.S. economy", said Michael Shifter, a specialist at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based research group.

The goal is not to harm U.S. businesses that have already begun business in Cuba under Obama's rapprochement and there will be exceptions in the regulations for airlines, cruise ships and other businesses.

Crucially, this decision will calm fears among US-based airlines and cruise lines that a potential reversal of Obama's relaxation on travel and trade rules could cost the sector $3.5bn. "That process has been started, you can't put the genie back in the bottle 100%", one official said. Trump also directed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to convene a task force on expanding Internet access on the island and reiterated the United States' opposition to efforts in the United Nations to lift the Cuban embargo until more is done to honor human rights. The US president has been accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, several cabinet members, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, congressmen of Cuban origin like Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz Balart and Carlos Curbelo and representatives of Cuban dissidents, Trump mentioned the Dissidents Jose Daniel Ferrer and Berta Soler, who were not allowed to travel to Miami, but "are here with us".

Some 285,000 people visited the Caribbean country in 2016, up 74 per cent over 2015, with Americans the third-biggest group after Canadians and Cuban expats.

He alleged that for almost six decades, the Cuban people had suffered under the Communist domination.

Obama announced in December 2014 that he and Castro were restoring ties.

Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser who negotiated Obama's opening with the Cubans, said it was disappointing Trump was halting the momentum that had built but added that it could have been worse.


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