Society

Trump To Restrict Business With Cuba

| by Jordan Smith

President Donald Trump is expected to give a speech on June 16 in which he will unveil a tougher stance towards Cuba.

Trump will reportedly prohibit Americans and U.S. companies from doing business with a Cuban conglomerate that owns large sections of the island nation's economy, Bloomberg reports.

Under former President Barack Obama, Washington eased travel and business restrictions with Cuba. Trump's policy would keep some of these changes in place, including direct flights to the country.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a press conference that Trump would "make an announcement on U.S.-Cuba policy," according to Mid Day.

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A summary of the policy suggested that tourism to the country would be prohibited. While it is formally banned under federal law, the Obama administration allowed people to travel to the island as part of "people to people" education programs, Politico reports.

Trump's new policy will ban transactions with the Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A., a business controlled by the Cuban military.

"This new policy reverses the Obama administration's support for the communist Castro regime and its military apparatus, and instead aligns the United States with the Cuban people," according to the summary prepared by a congressional office, Bloomberg reports.

"My administration's policy will be guided by key U.S. national security interests and solidarity with the Cuban people," the draft states, according to Politico. "I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people. To that end, we must ensure that U.S. funds are not channeled to a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society."

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James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a group advocating to lift the U.S. trade embargo, criticized the planned announcement.

"This policy was clearly written by people who have never been to Cuba, at least not in this century," Williams told Bloomberg. "Because if they had, they'd know that the only thing that restricting travel will do is devastate Cubans working in the private sector who have relied on American visitors to provide for their families."

The policy shift has reportedly been under discussion.

"If we’re going to sustain the sunny side of this relationship, Cuba must, absolutely must, begin to address its human-rights challenges," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 13.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also backs the measure.

"The airlines might complain that they will see less demand for travel because travelers can no longer spend money at the military-run properties," Rubio told Politico. "The pro-engagement groups point to the expansion of privately owned small business as a major defense of the current policy. This new policy helps them. It puts these private businesses at an advantage, because Americans can only spend money with them, not the military monopoly."

Sources: Bloomberg, Politico, Mid Day / Photo credit: Shealah Craighead via The White House/Flickr

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