Trump Plans Major Restrictions on Cuba Travel

One proposal under consideration by the Trump administration, according to the US sources, would tighten enforcement to make sure Americans legally fit the categories they claim to be traveling under, which could spook many visitors, wary of receiving a hefty fine.

The memo outlining the new policy does not say whether Trump will close any embassies or break off diplomatic relations, which were restored by the Obama administration in 2015.

Another official told the Associated Press the United States embassy in Havana will remain open but trade with any Cuban entity linked to the military will be banned. Since sales began in 2001, $5.35 billion in food and farm products has been shipped to Cuba, with chicken meat usually the leading item, according to the U.S. -Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which tracks commerce between the nations.

Trump's coming changes will mean that travelers will have to keep records of all their transactions in Cuba for five years in case the Treasury Department audits them to determine if their trips do actually fit in one of the allowed categories, POLITICO reported Thursday.

According to reports by one US official who had seen the president's memorandum on the issue, the rollback will include a tightening of travel restricitons on USA citizens travelling to the island and a restriction on US business dealings with companies tied to Cuba's military.

Speaking in Washington this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Obama's reforms effectively removed pressure on the Cuban regime to alter its behaviour.

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Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican who proposed similar restrictions in a bill two years ago, said that the goal of the policy change is to help Cuba's private sector.

American tourists with existing plans to travel to Cuba may not be affected.

"We will cancel Obama's one-sided Cuban deal", Trump said days before the election in Miami, "if we do not get the deal we want, and the deal that people living in Cuba and here deserve".

Supporters of Trump's changes said they are created to hurt Cuba's communist government economically, and encourage people to rise up against the regime that has been in power since 1959.

The policy rewrite, completed Wednesday ahead of Trump's Friday announcement in Miami, represents a major political achievement for Rubio, who cited Cuba as one of the reasons for seeking reelection to the Senate past year, and for Diaz-Balart, the only one of three local Cuban-American Republican lawmakers who endorsed Trump. Even among Cuban-Americans in South Florida, almost two-thirds want to lift the USA embargo.

The new policy will prohibit Americans from spending money at businesses owned by the Cuban military through its Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. (GAESA), the most powerful company in Cuba.

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The stated objective of the new policy is to cut down on human rights abuses. But more important, it hurts us geostrategically.

Rubio's critics accused him last week of protecting Trump - or whatever Cuba deal was in the works - when Rubio grilled former FBI Director James Comey during a Senate hearing. It argues that the government carries out human rights abuses, though many policy experts believe the new regulations will not improve human rights in Cuba.

That still leaves Cubans in Cuba, who are supposedly the ultimate beneficiaries of the changes Washington wants to bring about in the island.

And human rights in Cuba do matter, of course.

Survey after survey shows that a majority of Americans, Cuban-Americans, and Cubans in the island favor greater economic ties between the United States and Cuba.

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