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Republicans divided as Trump reverses some Obama Cuba policy

18 June 2017

The Cuban media called Trump's new foreign policy on Cuba "regrettable" and "archaic".

But his policy announced Friday contains a measure that could damage thousands of small-business people who host, feed and transport independent American travelers to Cuba.

Even as Trump predicted a quick end to Cuban President Raul Castro's regime, he challenged Cuba to negotiate better agreements for Americans, Cubans and those whose identities lie somewhere in between.

"We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalised and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled elections", Trump said. Delta, JetBlue and American will adhere to new changes and will continue to fly their regular flights to Cuba, they said in statements.

However, despite the rhetoric, the order appears to be less far-reaching than the President claimed, for example, the embassies that opened in Havana and Washington will be maintained, Cuban Americans will be allowed to send money to their families and visit them, and US companies will be allowed to continue commercial transportation, including flights between the two countries.

But other advisers have contended that it is important to make good on a campaign promise to Cuban-Americans.

Havana decried the "hostile rhetoric that recalls the time of open confrontation", and "return to the coercive methods of the past". Trump said he was reimposing certain travel and trade restrictions that had been relaxed by the Obama administration in an attempt to improve relations, criticising it as a "completely one-sided deal".

Castro also said that "the U.S. is not in a position to give us lessons".

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However, Havana also emphasized its "willingness to continue respectful dialogue and cooperation on issues of mutual interest". Find us on Facebook too!

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Trump, taking a tougher approach against Havana after promising to do so during the presidential campaign, will outline stricter enforcement of a long-time ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists and will seek to prevent US dollars from being used to fund what the new USA administration sees as a repressive military-dominated government.

"America has rejected the Cuban people's oppressors", Trump said in Miami's Little Havana, the cradle of Cuban-American resistance to Castro's government.

The Obama policy is likely to be revised rather than reversed entirely. Refusing to negotiate domestic reforms in exchange for US concessions is perhaps the most fundamental plank of Cuba's policy toward the U.S. Trump, on the other hand, described his move as an effort to bring about a "free Cuba" after more than half a century of communism.

On the surface, the announcement appears to benefit the territory; Cuba, if opened to full commerce with America, including travel, serves as an enormous threat to not only the U.S. Virgin Islands' tourism product, but much of the Caribbean, with industry leaders meeting on multiple occasions past year to discuss the potential impact. "It's about us helping them and their people as well", says Jim Byrum, the president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

The U.S. severed ties with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution, and spent decades trying to either overthrow the government or isolate the island, including by toughening an economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Obama administration argued that decades of isolation had failed to produce changes in the Cuban regime and sought a diplomatic and economic opening between the nations.