Trump to redraw Cuba policy

Trump to redraw Cuba policy

President Donald Trump is set to announce Friday, before an audience of anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Miami, that he is rolling back parts of the Obama administration's opening with Cuba.

The moves to be announced by Trump are only a partial reversal of Obama's policies, however.

The new policy will ban most USA business deals with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), a sprawling conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, but make exceptions related to air and sea travel, the officials said.

The president will ban U.S. tourist travel to the island, restate the importance of the trade embargo and institute a broad prohibition on financial transactions with companies controlled by the Cuban military, according to Politico, which got a draft version of the new policy.

Last year more than 600,000 Americans traveled to Cuba, about 74 percent more than the year before. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities created to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans.

By law, travel to the island from the U.S.is still generally limited to 12 authorized categories such as educational activity, humanitarian projects, and support for the Cuban people.

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The U.S. Embassy in Havana, which reopened in August 2015, will remain as a full-fledged diplomatic outpost.

But while certain USA businesses have increased their presence in Cuba and US visitors traveling under general licenses authorizing people-to-people contacts (read: mostly tourism) have increased since 2014, the Castro regime has continued its long-standing practice of brutalizing its own people.

"These people are benefitting greatly, not only from Americans spending money, but sharing their ideas with them", said Collin Laverty, founder and president of Cuba Educational Travel. Though Trump will announce his new policy this Friday, nothing will change until the agencies implement those regulations.

The Department of the Treasury defines that compliance as "a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities meant to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities and that will result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba".

"(Cuba) represses dissent and discourages public criticism", Human Rights Watch wrote in a blog post.

The theater where Trump will be making his policy speech was named after the political leader of Brigade 2506 in the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba.

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Trump said throughout the 2016 campaign that he was willing to rollback diplomatic relations with the communist regime in Cuba.

Trump has long hanged his understanding of the deal between the United States and Cuba on his "Cuban friends" in Florida, whom he said throughout the campaign supported him over Democrat Hillary Clinton. However, the policy changes appear to allow Marriott, Starwood's parent company, to continue operating the hotel. On one hand, members of the Cuban-American congressional delegation, particularly Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who lobbied for the change in policy earlier this year at the White House. A source told Fox News the president is also expected to call for the release of Cuban political prisoners, but did not provide further details.

The change in the US posture toward Cuba under Trump marks the latest policy about-face by the president.

Rubio, a Cuban policy hardliner, has said that the change is positive as "economic practices that benefit the Cuban military at the expense of the Cuban people will soon be coming to an end".

Trump had previously said he supported restoring diplomatic relations but wished the US had negotiated a better deal.

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Trump's personal lawyer also challenged Comey's account, saying the president never asked for the investigation to be dropped. Comey also has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn't "want to get time alone with the president again".

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