President Trump on Friday is expected to announce a shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba that includes restrictions on business with government or military entities. The administration’s new policies are expected to limit some travel to and trade with the island, Politico reported Thursday.
Trump will make the announcement in a speech in Miami following the administration’s full review of current U.S. policy.
“My administration’s policy will be guided by key U.S. national security interests and solidarity with the Cuban people,” reads a draft of the presidential directive obtained by Politico. “I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people. To that end, we must ensure that U.S. funds are not channeled to a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society.”
“For American tourists, Trump’s policy means that the days of drinking Havana Club rum in a Havana club will likely soon be over.
Under a strict interpretation of the directive, an American probably can’t even stay in an Old Havana hotel or use a tour service because they’re run or controlled by Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A., or GAESA, the business arm of the Cuban military that controls a vast swath of the country’s economy, including most of Cuba’s foreign-run hotels. The prohibition includes any subsidiaries or affiliated companies, along with certain other state-controlled entities.”
“The policy the Trump administration is announcing regarding Cuba based on President Trump’s core conviction that what the Cuban exile community is asking for is right and just,” the White House said in a written statement to POLITICO. “The oppressors of the Cuban people are the Cuban government who have increased repression on the island against dissidents and Ladies in White since reestablishing diplomatic relations. Prior to that, it was not clear to some if the Obama policy toward Cuba would work; today it is clear that the Obama policy toward Cuba does not.”
Politico also added:
“While tourism to Cuba is banned by federal law, the Obama administration had been allowing people to travel to Cuba and spend money as part of “people to people” educational trips for visitors who plan a full itinerary of educational exchange activities, though there had been little to no enforcement of these requirements.
The Trump administration is stepping up requirements on those sorts of trips, requiring a full-time schedule of activities that “enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that the travel must result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler” and Cubans, according to the draft. Travelers to Cuba will have to keep detailed records of all their financial transactions in the country for five years to make available to the Treasury Department if requested.”
However, the changes won’t be a complete roll back of the U.S.-Cuba normalization policies implemented under the Obama administration. For instance, purchasing visas will be permitted for those who are allowed to travel to Cuba. Also, remittances from Cubans living in the U.S. will also still be allowed. And the Trump administration also won’t be reinstating the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which gave safe haven (and special status) to Cuban refugees who successfully reached American shores. In January, the Obama administration ended the policy.