Trump to announce curbs on business with Cuban military

Posted June 16, 2017

Cuban Americans at the Tabanero Cigar company in Ybor City are anxiously waiting to learn what changes President Donald Trump will make to the island nation.

Trump will lay out his new Cuba policy in a speech in Miami that will roll back parts of former President Barack Obama's opening to the communist-ruled island after a 2014 diplomatic breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes.

Getting to stroll through the colorful streets of Havana may soon be much harder for Americans.

The president is expected to emphasize that a ban on American tourism to Cuba remains in effect and announce that his administration will "strictly [enforce] the 12 authorized categories for US citizens to travel to the island".

The group that has ruled the country since the 1959 revolution is dying out and Cuba's main political and trade ally Venezuela is in crisis.

Last year more than 600,000 Americans traveled to Cuba, about 74 percent more than the year before.

Under Trump's new travel restrictions, commerce with businesses run by the military branch of the Cuban army will be strictly forbidden.

Trump's policy aims to shift the flow of US money from the Cuban military that controls much of the economy to the emerging private sector. 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.

Trump will end that practice for so called "people to people" travel, which has created a loophole that allows nearly anyone to travel to the island legally senior White House officials said.

But Trump's planned rollback of Obama's policy has drawn opposition from American businesses and the travel industry, which have begun making inroads on the island, as well as many lawmakers, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans.

Much of Trump's policy appears based on S.1489, a bill proposed by Sen.

"We want to strengthen the Cuban people without strengthening the Cuban military", Marco Rubio, the United States senator and former presidential candidate, said yesterday. Marco Rubio, both Cuban-American Republicans from South Florida.

The Trump administration has promised to reinstate the regulations, citing "human rights" concerns.

On Thursday, White House officials said that under the new directive, the US would maintain its embassy in Cuba.

Polls suggest most Americans support the liberalized policy towards Cuba pushed by the Obama administration. The Department of Treasury will create the new regulations and none of the changes will take effect until the regulations are completed.

Critics said the changes would only hurt everyday Cubans who work in the private sector and depend on American visitors to help provide for their families. Before the Obama administration relaxed travel restrictions, the number of USA visitors who were not of Cuban origin to the island was 91,254 in 2014, but that figure had tripled to 284,837 in December 2016, according to statistics from the Cuban government. "Likewise, Americans should be allowed to travel to other nations and serve as diplomats who can spread our soft power overseas".