Donald Trump Tightens Cuba Travel And Trade Rules

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President Donald Trump announced in Miami on Friday that he will tighten rules governing travel to and trade with Cuba, marking a significant reversal of policies President Barack Obama implemented during his second term.

These rules also mark the fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promises to dismantle Obama’s executive orders and to put pressure on the Raúl Castro regime.

“A free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” Trump said during his speech in Florida.

“We now hold the cards. The previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people, they only enrich the Cuban regime,” Trump added, slamming the Obama administration’s deal with Cuba as “completely one-sided.”

Specifically, the new policy will again limit U.S. tourism to Cuba, which has boomed since Obama thawed relations with the island nation’s authoritarian regime in 2014. American tourists have been able to travel to the country on their own via what’s known as individual “people-to-people” educational trips (something airlines have capitalized on by adding direct flights from the U.S. to Cuba), but they will now have to qualify for a visa under one of 12 authorized travel categories, which will be more intensely enforced. (Educational trips qualify under one of those categories but must be part of a guide-led group trip.)

Cuban-Americans, however, will still be allowed to visit family members on the island.

The new regulations also prevent U.S. citizens from conducting financial transactions with companies controlled by the Cuban military or intelligence services — companies that make up a large percentage of the Cuban economy. In addition to preventing U.S. businesses from dealing with state-controlled companies, the new regulation would also prevent Americans from staying in state-owned hotels, shopping at major retail chains or even using particular tourist services on the island.

(Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump won’t, however, break off U.S. diplomatic ties nor close the embassy Obama reopened in 2015. The new restrictions also won’t bar U.S. visitors from bringing home Cuban rum and cigars, nor will they bar airlines or cruise companies from offering service to the island.

Banking transactions will also still be allowed, letting U.S. visitors continue to book accommodations via Airbnb or other private-property rental platforms.

Read more on the new policies here.

Obama first announced the thawing of relations with Cuba in 2014 and traveled to the country in 2016, marking the first visit by a sitting U.S. president in 88 years.

Many polls have indicated that most Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support renewing ties with Cuba.

Trump, however, promised to dismantle Obama’s policies throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

“All of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done with executive order, which means the next president can reverse them. And that is what I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” Trump said in September. “Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”

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President Barack Obama joins others in looking out the window of Air Force One on the final approach into Havana.
President Barack Obama joins others in looking out the window of Air Force One on the final approach into Havana.
Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha greet dignitaries upon arriving in Havana.
Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha greet dignitaries upon arriving in Havana.
Obama greets people in Old Havana.
Obama greets people in Old Havana.
Obama waves to people as he enters a restaurant in Havana.
Obama waves to people as he enters a restaurant in Havana.
Obama walks through Old Havana.
Obama walks through Old Havana.
The Obama family and Marian Robinson take a walking tour of Old Havana. Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of Havana, leads the tour of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes del Castillo Monument. The statue honors the Cuban planter, also known as Padre de la Patria (father of the country), who freed his slaves and made the declaration of Cuban independence.The statue honors the Cuban planter, also known as Padre de la Patria (father of the country), who freed his slaves and made the declaration of Cuban independence.
The Obama family and Marian Robinson take a walking tour of Old Havana. Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of Havana, leads the tour of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes del Castillo Monument. The statue honors the Cuban planter, also known as Padre de la Patria (father of the country), who freed his slaves and made the declaration of Cuban independence.The statue honors the Cuban planter, also known as Padre de la Patria (father of the country), who freed his slaves and made the declaration of Cuban independence.
First lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha tour La Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Concepcion Inmaculada in Old Havana.
First lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha tour La Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Concepcion Inmaculada in Old Havana.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk to the motorcade after touring Old Havana, Cuba.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk to the motorcade after touring Old Havana, Cuba.
Patrons at a Havana hotel wave as the Obama family walks past.
Patrons at a Havana hotel wave as the Obama family walks past.
Obama greets hotel workers in Havana.
Obama greets hotel workers in Havana.
Obama and White House staffer Ben Rhodes talk with Cardinal Jamie Ortega while touring La Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Concepcion Inmaculada in Old Havana.
Obama and White House staffer Ben Rhodes talk with Cardinal Jamie Ortega while touring La Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Concepcion Inmaculada in Old Havana.
Obama shares a laugh with his daughter Malia as she interprets in Spanish for a restauranteur in Havana.
Obama shares a laugh with his daughter Malia as she interprets in Spanish for a restauranteur in Havana.
Obama laughs while having dinner with his family.
Obama laughs while having dinner with his family.

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