Republicans divided as Trump reverses some Obama-era Cuba policies

WASHINGTON, June 16 President Donald Trump on Friday will announce plans to tighten restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and clamp down on us business dealings with the island's military, rolling back parts of former President Barack Obama's historic opening to Havana. Cuban officials have warned that the limited intelligence sharing between Havana and Washington may stall considering Trump's announcement.

Although the policy changes announced were limited, Trump tightened rules for Americans traveling to Cuba, banned ties with a military-run tourism firm and reaffirmed the existing United States trade embargo.

Even as Trump predicted a quick end to Cuban President Raul Castro's regime, he challenged Cuba to negotiate better agreements for Americans, Cubans and those whose identities lie somewhere in between. And, of course, nothing prevents the Cuban government from simply moving revenue over to the military or state security, a vulnerability in the policy that the White House has not addressed.

According to a White House statement, the new rules will prohibit individual travel to Cuba and look to limit payment flows to state-owned companies operated by Cuban military organisation Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA).

In his address, Trump said he was "cancelling" the Obama administration's "completely one-sided deal with Cuba".

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"The policy centres on the belief that the oppressed Cuban people - rather than the oppressive Castro regime's military and its subsidiaries - should benefit from American engagement with the island", he said.

"The Cuban statement said that Trump "justified that policy with alleged concerns over the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously apply" the trade embargo and blockade against the island, which Obama had relaxed".

"We are not here to lecture - we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship", Trump said in a speech to Arab leaders.

The changes will not go into effect until regulations are drafted by the US Treasury Department and other agencies, officials said. However, the government also made it clear that it is willing to continue "respectful dialogue" and cooperation with Washington on issues of mutual interest. Find us on Facebook too! "Officially, today, they are rejected".

MI farmers are among those criticizing President Trump's plan to impose new business and travel restrictions on Cuba. Refusing to negotiate domestic reforms in exchange for USA concessions is perhaps the most fundamental plank of Cuba's policy toward the U.S.

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Reversing policy is bad for Cubans, Human Rights Watch said in a statement, "and insisting on human rights progress as a precondition to a new policy is unlikely to bring about change". "On the other hand, we think we've achieved very little in terms of changing the behavior of the regime in Cuba and its treatment of people", he said, "and it has little incentive to change that". "It's about us helping them and their people as well", says Jim Byrum, the president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

Despite his claim to be cancelling the deal, Trump's rhetoric took a tougher line than his policy shift as he left in place much of Obama's policy, such as the reopening of diplomatic ties and the elimination of preferences for Cuban immigrants.

The U.S. severed ties with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution, and spent decades trying to either overthrow the government or isolate the island, including by toughening an economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Obama administration had restored diplomatic relations with its Cold War foe in December 2014. Less than a year later, the U.S. Embassy in Havana re-opened, and Obama paid a historic visit to Havana in 2016.

Yet, while Cuba's tourism resurgence is a big part of the problem in the territory's efforts to grow its product and keep it relevant, Havana is only one player in a multi-prong threat that includes neighboring ports like Puerto Rico, Tortola and also St. Maarten, whose governments are investing heavily in rebranding, extending and promoting their own tourism offerings.

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