Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

President Trump Tightens Rules on Americans Traveling to Cuba and More

President Trump Tightens Rules on Americans Traveling to Cuba and More

President Donald Trump is set to announce curbs on USA firms doing business with the Cuban military and tighter rules on travel to the island Friday, as he moves to roll back an opening initiated by Barack Obama.

A White House official said that the policies will "not target Cuban people but oppressive members of the Cuban government".

President Trump will lay out his new Cuba policy in a speech in Miami that will shred parts of former President Barack Hussein Obama's opening to the Communist-ruled island after a Y 2014 diplomatic breakthrough between the 2 former Cold War foes.

"We hope the Cuban regime will see this as an opportunity to institute reforms that they have paid lip service to", one official said. "And so I think this is an effort to remove what the president has called a very, very bad deal".

Trump is expected to announce the changes Friday at Miami's Manual Artime Theater surrounded by prominent Cuban-Americans who back the move.

In his search for votes in Florida during the presidential campaign, Trump toughened his stance on Cuba and promised to rescind many of Obama's measures. "But it's up to Raúl Castro to make that happen", a senior White House official said. Cuba will also not be reclassified as a state sponsor of terrorism under the new policy. Under the Trump administration's future regulations, only educational groups will be able to facilitate these people-to-people interactions. Travelers would be subject to Treasury Department scrutiny of their trip and could face fines if it did not comply with rules. Obama's policy shift was designed in part to improve relations with other Latin American countries that opposed a US -led embargo against Cuba, in place since 1960.

Some business leaders have also tried to convince Trump not to roll back Obama's Cuba policy.

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The influx in Americans going to see the sights has resulted in the rebirth of cruises and air service from the U.S.to the island, with nonstop flights available from NY to Havana. While the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba will still remain, a subcategory - individual people-to-people travel - is on the chopping block.

Those on both sides of the issue say the Starwood decision was particularly vexing for the administration. US tourism has been booming since relations between Washington and Havana were resumed.

Of major note, there will be no change to the "wet foot, dry foot" policy and the USA embassy in Cuba will also remain open. For example, if someone in the US has a family member die in Cuba, they can travel to the island nation. These visitors will be allowed to pay bank fees at the military-run bank and rent private properties such as those offered by Airbnb.

In a contentious internal debate, some aides argued that Trump, a former real estate magnate who won the presidency promising to unleash USA business and create jobs, would have a hard time defending any moves that close off the Cuban market.

Three officials who briefed reporters ahead of Trump's address, on White House-imposed condition of anonymity, said no policy changes would go immediately into effect. And Americans can still self-certify under a general license that they are traveling to Cuba for legitimate reasons.

For one, there continues to be overwhelming support among American voters for the U.S. opening with Cuba, which has yielded a significant amount of economic activity both on the island and in the United States.

"The United States prospers by engaging with the world", they wrote.

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