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Trump's Cuba Policy Draws Mixed Reactions From Travel Companies And Other Businesses

19 June 2017

President Donald Trump on Friday will announce a revised U.S. Cuba policy that eliminates travel for single individuals and bans future U.S. business transactions with Cuba's military, according to senior administration officials.

Trump and others who back the changes want to pressure the Castro regime to allow the island's private sector to grow and to stop beating and imprisoning political opponents, which dissident groups say increased after Obama's diplomatic thaw.

The changes, part of a months-long review, are aimed at fulfilling a campaign promise Trump made to roll back Obama's moves to reopen ties with the island.

Trump will travel on Friday to Miami, where he is set to announce a prohibition on "financial transactions" with military-backed tourism conglomerate GAESA, according to a source close to the deliberations.

Trump will speak in Miami and will issue a presidential directive to reverse some of the regulations in 2014 by President Barack Obama, Reuters reported. Less than a year later, the U.S. Embassy in Havana re-opened, and Obama paid a historic visit to Havana in 2016. The policy will maintain diplomatic relations and allow US airlines and cruise ships to continue servicing the island. Obama and his aides argued that commerce and travel between the countries, which has blossomed since he relaxed the rules, would make his policy irreversible.

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A Morning Consult poll released by the group Engage Cuba earlier this week said that 65% of voters surveyed support Obama's Cuba policy, including 64% of Republicans.

Tourism is technically banned under the embargo, but under the Obama administration, relaxed regulations allowed Americans to visit Cuba under people-to-people travel. And there will be limits on Americans' ability to travel to Cuba, a change of which we are less enamored.

As a result, the changes - though far-reaching - appear to be less sweeping than many U.S.pro-engagement advocates had feared. USA travelers now will have to go in authorized groups or with special visas. Miami is home to the largest Cuban-American community.

The president will also unveil a series of "very specific benchmarks" in a speech in Miami on Friday that Cuban President Raul Castro needs to meet in order to negotiate with the USA, according to White House officials on Thursday. His aides contend that Obama's easing of US restrictions has done nothing to advance political freedoms in Cuba, while benefiting the Cuban government financially.

On Thursday, he said that change is coming.

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Cuba functioned as a virtual US colony for much of the 20th century, and even reform-minded Cubans are highly sensitive to perceived USA infringements on national sovereignty.

Trump will announce his plan as a human rights act, standing up to and refusing to support a communist regime that controls much of the economy and leaves only pennies on the dollar for its citizens to scrape by.

Since the rapprochement with the United States, the Cuban government has repeatedly said it will hold talks on any topic the United States wants to discuss.

"We want this relationship to be one in which we can encourage the Cuban people through economic interaction", an official said.

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