Trump Should Think Twice Before Rolling Back Obama's Cuba Policy

First U.S. Flight Since 1959 Lands in Cuba

Cuban-Americans are eager and anxious for President Donald Trump's announcement in Miami Friday of changes to the US policy toward Cuba, though it appears the changes will be more like a tweak of the Obama-era provisions.

That is the opinion of the leader of the Engage Cuba coalition, James Williams, who said that dismantling the policies implemented by the Barack Obama administration (2009-2017) would be bad for the USA and Cuban peoples and for the White House chief himself.

Rapprochement has brought the island "an increase of repression, of death threats to the opposition and to the Cuban people", psychologist and journalist Guillermo Fariñas said he told Obama in the second of their two meetings.

Trump's changes, to be announced during a Friday speech in Miami, are not expected to affect the re-establishment of basic diplomatic relations with Cuba, including renewed embassies in the respective country's capitals.

Former President Barack Obama may have begun normalizing relations with Cuba, but President Donald Trump will be re-tightening regulations regarding travel. Americans traveling to Cuba will face more scrutiny and potentially audits of their trip when they get back home in order to prove their dollars didn't go to the Cuban military's pockets, which control much of the tourism economy.

Normalized trade with Cuba could add $1 billion in sales for USA farmers, the USDA said past year.

The President also looks set to re-close opened doors to USA business deals with the Cuban government - especially the military and its vast holdings in tourism and other sectors. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities created to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans.

USA tech giant Google installed servers in Cuba; global hotel operators rushed to open five-star hotels in Havana and Cuba's resorts; airlines eagerly launched regular commercial flights to different cities in the country; and cruise lines put Havana and Cuban resorts on their itineraries.

Trump has called President Obama's relaxation of travel and trade restrictions with Cuba a "bad deal", and he may reverse some of Obama's changes to trade and travel policies.

White House officials describe the policy change as fulfilling a promise Trump made to Florida's Cuban exile community last fall.

Trump will also direct the secretaries of treasury and commerce to provide regulations that prohibit direct financial transactions with Cuban military intelligence and security services. That means that any US traveler now booked on a flight to Cuba in the next few weeks, or even months, could go ahead and make the trip.

Diaz-Balart's behind-the-scenes work spilled into public view in March, when the White House courted his vote for the American Health Care Act.

Obama announced in December 2014 that he and Cuban leader Raul Castro were restoring diplomatic ties between their countries, arguing that the policy the US had pursued for decades had failed to bring about change and that it was time to try a new approach. The United States maintained an economic embargo on Cuba for more than 50 years. It spent subsequent decades trying to either overthrow the Cuban government or isolate the island, including toughening an economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

After a long line of questions about Trump's private conversations with Comey, Rubio quickly changed the subject to the problem of leaks to the media. Even among Cuban-Americans in South Florida, almost two-thirds want to lift the US embargo.

The son of a Cuban immigrant, Rubio opposed Obama's re-engagement with Cuba, saying Obama was making concessions to an "odious regime".

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican who proposed similar restrictions in a bill two years ago, said that the goal of the policy change is to help Cuba's private sector. Those heading to the airport Friday can also expect slowdowns on State Road 836, the Dolphins Expressway, as Trump arrives and departs from MIA, as well as possible delayed flights to accommodate Air Force One. The moves may include new limits on travel and investment policies. He said he would "stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression", and went on to win about half the Cuban vote in Florida in the presidential election.

If travel to Cuba is reduced, "You'd have a lot of people whose income would fall dramatically", she said.


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