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Cuba - US Relations - Trump

President Donald Trump on 16 June 2017 began rolling back some of his predecessor's actions that were meant to engage Cuba after more than a half-century of isolation by the United States. The policy goes into effect tomorrow, but the policy directs the creation of new regulations so the actual impact occurs when those regulations go into effect, a senior White House official told reporters on 16 June 2017. The actions tightened travel restrictions for Americans and banned doing business with the island nation's military conglomerate, GAESA, which is estimated to control more than half of the Cuban economy.

In a 1999 opinion piece in the Miami Herald, Trump explained why he was unwilling to form partnerships that would allow him to build casino-hotels in the Cuban capital of Havana. "If I formed a joint venture with European partners, I would make millions of dollars. But I'd rather lose those millions than lose my self-respect. I would rather take a financial hit than become a financial backer of one of the world's most-brutal dictators, a man who was once willing to aid in the destruction of my country," Trump said. "To me the embargo question is no question at all," he continued. "Of course, we should keep the embargo in place. We should keep it until Castro is gone."

When Trump was asked early during his presidential run about the United States' warming of relations with Cuba, his response was largely positive. "I think it's fine," Trump told The Daily Caller in a September 2015 interview. "We should have made a better deal, [but] the concept of opening with Cuba 50 years is enough," he said, referencing Washington's longstanding economic and diplomatic sanctions against the socialist country.

President-elect Trump's public stance on the issue has almost completely reversed. Now, when Trump talks about President Barack Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, it is almost entirely in negative terms. US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said 16 September 2016 that if he was elected, he would reverse all of what he called the "concessions" President Barack Obama made in an effort to normalize relations with Cuba, unless Havana met certain demands. "Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners," Trump said in Miami, home to a large Cuban population. The real estate billionaire said "We're going to stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression. We're on the right side. Great people. They are great people. The president's one-sided deal for Cuba and with Cuba, benefits only the Castro regime."

Trump's chief of staff on Sunday said the president-elect is "absolutely" willing to reverse Obama's opening to Cuba. Speaking 2 November 2016 on Fox News Sunday , Reince Priebus said the future of U.S.-Cuba relations depends on whether Havana makes "movement in the right direction" on human rights. "Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships," said Priebus. "There's going to have to be some movement from Cuba in order to have a relationship with the United States."

US President-elect Donald Trump threatened to reverse President Barack Obama's warming of relations with Cuba, the clearest indication yet that the historic restoration of ties is under threat. "If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal," Trump said 28 November 2016.

John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, said it would be easy for a Trump administration to eliminate the flights to Cuba, calling them an additional measure of normalcy in an anything-but-normal relationship. Individuals associated with the president-elect, both officially and unofficially, will not be enthusiastic about the resumption of the flights; they will view each flight as a satchel of United States currency traveling on a one-way journey to Cuba with no meaningful measurable return other than to perpetuate abhorrent commercial, economic and political systems, he said.

In June 2017, President Donald J. Trump changed U.S. policy toward Cuba to achieve four objectives:

  1. Enhance compliance with United States lawin particular the provisions that govern the embargo of Cuba and the ban on tourism; Hold the Cuban regime accountable for oppression and human rights abuses ignored under the Obama policy; Further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and those of the Cuban people; and Lay the groundwork for empowering the Cuban people to develop greater economic and political liberty.

These objectives were described in detail in President Trumps National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba, or NSPM.

"The United States recognizes the need for more freedom and democracy, improved respect for human rights, and increased free enterprise in Cuba. The Cuban people have long suffered under a Communist regime that suppresses their legitimate aspirations for freedom and prosperity and fails to respect their essential human dignity.

"My Administration's policy will be guided by the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, as well as solidarity with the Cuban people. I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people. To that end, we must channel funds toward the Cuban people and away from a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society.

"These interests include: advancing Cuban human rights; encouraging the growth of a Cuban private sector independent of government control; enforcing final orders of removal against Cuban nationals in the United States; protecting the national security and public health and safety of the United States, including through proper engagement on criminal cases and working to ensure the return of fugitives from American justice living in Cuba or being harbored by the Cuban government; supporting United States agriculture and protecting plant and animal health; advancing the understanding of the United States regarding scientific and environmental challenges; and facilitating safe civil aviation."

In November 2017, regulations were amended to implement changes to the Cuba sanctions program. In 2018, an estimated 800,000 travelers visited Cuba on the ships of 17 lines. This all came crashing down, literally overnight, with an abrupt Trump administration policy change in June 2019.

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Page last modified: 17-12-2020 20:16:05 ZULU