Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Local | By Ada Griffith

Trump to Announce Tougher Rules for Cuba

Cuban diplomat Josefina Vidal told the Miami Herald more than 600,000 Americans visited the island a year ago, a 34 percent jump from 2014.

The changes will include rolling back provisions that made it easier for individual Americans to travel to Havana, and American companies who made investments in the country in the past couple of years may see regulatory changes as well, senior White House officials told reporters during a conference call.

On Thursday, he said that change is coming.

"We are at an important moment in the relationship between the United States and Cuba", Marriott said in a statement, according to the CNBC report. In practice, however, many recent changes to boost ties to Cuba will stay as they are.

That's because President Donald Trump, making good on a 2016 campaign promise, is expected to announce Friday a review and overhaul of US-Cuba policy unveiled by Barack Obama in 2015. The venue, a former church, is named after one of the leaders of the Brigade 2506 Bay of Pigs veterans whose group endorsed Trump last October.

"The president has made clear that he will look toward repressive regimes in this hemisphere", the same senior administration official said. Obama's policy shift was designed in part to improve relations with other Latin American countries that opposed a USA -led embargo against Cuba, in place since 1960. USA travelers now will have to go in authorized groups or with special visas.

The firm is now involved in joint ventures with several foreign firms, including the Marriott hotel chain. The embargo remains in place and unchanged by Trump's policy.

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While tourism to Cuba is banned by federal law, the Obama administration had let people travel to Cuba and spend money under "people to people" educational trips.

Those on both sides of the issue say the Starwood decision was particularly vexing for the administration.

In January of 2015, Obama requested Congress to lift a number of trade restrictions which had been instated at the start of the US blockade on the Caribbean island. Additionally, travel and money sent by Cuban Americans could continue unaffected. These visitors will be allowed to pay bank fees at the military-run bank and rent private properties such as those offered by Airbnb.

Most U.S. travelers to Cuba will again be required to visit the island as part of organized tour groups run by American companies. 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. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was instrumental in drafting Trump's changes, with help from Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

"You can't put the genie back in the bottle 100 percent", a top White House official said, pushing back against the questions about whether the changes amount to a "half measure" and not a full reversal of Obama's Cuba policies.

American citizens will still be able to get commercial flights to Cuba, but only under 12 circumstances, which will be more strictly enforced. And Americans who visit Cuba will still be allowed to bring rum and cigars home with them.

The influx in Americans going to see the sights has resulted in the rebirth of cruises and air service from the the island, with nonstop flights available from NY to Havana. "Likewise, Americans should be allowed to travel to other nations and serve as diplomats who can spread our soft power overseas".

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