Sunday, 25 June, 2017

Russia says Trump is using 'Cold War rhetoric' on Cuba

President Donald Trump speaks about Cuba policy Friday President Donald Trump speaks about Cuba policy Friday
Darrell Mcdonald | 19 June, 2017, 00:46

"President Trump's policy makes itself, once again, part of the old policy of pressure and strangulation of the Cuban people", founders Lenier Gonzalez and Roberto Veiga wrote Saturday.

Trump said Friday that any easement of restrictions on doing U.S. business in Cuba would have to wait until political prisoners are freed and fair elections are held.

Speaking earlier in Miami, Florida, Mr Trump said he was reimposing certain travel and trade restrictions eased by the Obama administration, condemning a "completely one-sided deal". They should impose more sanctions against Cuba.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, typically supportive of GOP presidents, predicted the changes would limit prospects for "positive change on the island", while Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said Trump's policy was "misguided" and will hurt the U.S. economically.

"Why would you go back to a policy that has failed for 55 years?"

One of the biggest changes is what constitutes a legal form of travel to Cuba. This is a direct result of relaxed relations between the two countries.

Earlier on Friday, the United States president pledged to overhaul his predecessor Barack Obama's Cuba policy.

July 2015: The US and Cuba reopen embassies in each other's capitals and restore full diplomatic ties.

1962: Castro agrees to allow the Soviet Union to deploy nuclear missiles on the island bringing the U.S. and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war.

The president's speech to Cuban exiles in Miami has also dismayed moderates who were working with pro-engagement Americans but now fear association with a policy of open hostility toward the communist system could make them targets for repression. The boon in tourism jump-started Cuba's sluggish economy and increased American influence.

The government says it received more than 4 million tourists past year - a record number - of which about 615,000 were US visitors.

What did Candidate Trump say?

But at the same time, Trump often criticizes regulations on the business community as "burdensome" and "job-killing".

This flowed over into last year's campaign, with Trump vowing to terminate the agreement. Now, across the street from his statue is Tabanero Cigars, a Cuban shop, where people are buzzing over President Trump's new restrictions on the island nation.

"I have continued to press both the Obama and Trump Administrations for the return of Joanne Chesimard, and am pleased that the president today made her return - in clear and absolute terms, as I have insisted - contingent upon any further US engagement in Cuba". Can people still travel to the country? But if the administration follows through on redefining what it means to be part of the Cuban military, that could affect policies on remittances down the line.

And while his policy has the stated aim of helping the country's nascent private sector, it contains a measure that could damage thousands of small-business people who host, feed and transport independent American travelers to Cuba.

Once more the right of Americans to travel would be sacrificed, in the name of what?

"America is prepared to outstretch its hand and work with the people of Cuba, but we will not, we will not empower their oppressors", Sen. "We will never, ever be blind to it", Trump said. Trump did not reverse Obama's policy, but made adjustments.

GAESA now operates the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, one of the first USA hotels to open on the island in decades.

Moreover, it appears there's a willingness to keep in place Obama's efforts to communicate with Cuba.

What's been the response to Trump's efforts?

"We don't have to have "travel papers" for the government to decide whether or not you can travel".

"When he said he was going to turn down whatever was in place, the first thing that came to mind was my family in Cuba", said Yanko Maceda, the owner of Tabanero.

But the overwhelming majority of the Cuban economy is controlled by the government.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday Trump is: 'returning us to the forgotten rhetoric of the Cold War'.

He announced plans to restrict USA businesses and citizens from doing business with Cuban companies owned by the country's military - amounting to vast swaths of the island nation's economy, experts said - and to forbid American individuals from traveling to Cuba while also imposing additional restrictions on group tours.

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