Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Tougher Trump line toward Cuba delights hardliners on island

Tougher Trump line toward Cuba delights hardliners on island

Cuban diplomats cited police killings and police brutality, racial discrimination, child labor, firearm deaths, salary inequality, the marginalization of refugees and the USA withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change as reasons why Trump was in no position to judge Cuba. But it makes some exceptions, including for air and sea travel, according to United States officials.

The statement continues, "The Cuban government denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are destined to fail as has been shown repeatedly in the past, and which will not achieve its objective to weaken the revolution or to defeat the Cuban people, whose resistance to the aggressions of any type and origin has been proven over nearly six decades". US airlines and cruise ships will still be allowed to serve the island 90 miles south of Florida.

The administration, according to one White House official, also does not intend to "disrupt" existing business ventures such as one struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels, which is owned by Marriott International Inc, to manage a Havana hotel. Trump's speech evoked, instead, the Cold War thinking that dominated the USA government's stance toward Cuba for a half-century. "The actions of the Pakistani military establishment clearly show that they are not a trustworthy ally of the US in the war against terrorism", the recently formed World Muhajir (refugee) Congress said in a memorandum to the Trump administration and US Congress.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said Trump's policy moves the USA backward.

Under the President's executive order, the Trump administration will begin strictly enforcing the exemptions that allow travel between the United States and Cuba and prohibit commerce with Cuban businesses owned by the military and intelligence services. "Instead of asking Cuba to free political prisoners, Trump should expel the criminal politicians sheltered in the U.S.".

Many came in under the self-directed "people to people" category, which Trump is eliminating.

What did Trump say about it?

He spoke in Miami briefly before Trump took the stage.

USA visitors may face more questioning from authorities when they return home from Cuba.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republican, Cuban-American hardliners, lobbied Trump hard toward reversal. Washington had severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961, two years after communist rebels led by Fidel Castro toppled the right-wing government of Fulgencio Batista. "It's like we are returning to the Cold War", said Cuban designer Idania del Rio, who joined a group of friends in a hotel in Old Havana to watch the speech in English on CNN.

While tourism to Cuba is banned by US law, the Obama administration had been allowing people to travel to Cuba as part of "people to people" educational trips for visitors, a popular classification that a White House official said was "ripe for abuse" by those looking for beach vacations. Obama's détente has already lifted exports and raised hopes for more gains, which they said were now in doubt. Trump's vow to keep the broader decades-old United States economic embargo on Cuba firmly in place drew criticism from some U.S. farmers, especially growers of corn, soybeans and rice.

During his speech, Trump slammed Cuba for human rights abuses, saying, "The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela".

Trump didn't fully reverse the rapprochement with Cuba. And a blanket ban on USA transactions with Cuba's military conglomerate would just create opportunities for European, Asian and Latin American investors to fill the gap, depriving the US of influence and commercial opportunities.

By restricting individual to Cuba, the new policy also risks cutting off a major source of income for Cuba's private business sector, which the policy is meant to support. "The previous administration's easing of restrictions of travel and trade does not help the Cuban people".

But he did tighten rules for Americans traveling to Cuba, ban ties with a military-run tourism firm and reaffirm the existing U.S. trade embargo - which will be firmly enforced. Among the conditions a transition government in Cuba must meet are: legalization of all political activity; release of all political prisoners; dissolution of the present Department of State Security - including the Committees for Defense of the Revolution; a public commitment to organize free and fair elections for a new government that will be held in a period not to exceed 18 months; stopping any interference with Radio or TV Martí broadcasts; and establishment of an independent judiciary and independent trade unions.

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