Trump 'cancels' Obama Cuba policy, restricts travel and trade

The smartest play for President Trump right now would be to let the Cubans know that he has zero emotional investment in Obama's opening, stands ready to reverse it and even tighten things farther under certain circumstances, is deeply opposed to Cuban interference in Venezuela-and meanwhile leave the sword of Damocles hanging over Cuba's head.

And it will not limit travel or money sent by Cuban Americans, as former President George W. Bush did-though fewer Cuban government officials will be allowed to come to the USA and receive money than under Obama.

President Trump's decision to rewind some of America's two and a half years of openness with Cuba will not be a wholesale retrenchment of President Obama's policies, many of which are favored by the business community and among advocates for trade and commerce with the tiny island dictatorship.

Under the expected changes, the U.S. will ban United States financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by Cuba's military-linked corporation GAESA, which operates dozens of hotels, tour buses, restaurants and other facilities.

Regulations allowing USA commercial flights and cruise ship to travel to Cuba will not be affected, the officials said.

However, Mr Trump stopped short of breaking diplomatic relations restored in 2015 after more than five decades of hostilities.

The new realities of U.S.travel to Cuba will be determined by the regulations that federal agencies will produce as a result of the new policy.

Sources say the new plan won't touch existing tourism deals, like one that was struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels and USA airlines and cruise lines to the island will likely be exempt.

The proposed changes in U.S. -Cuba relations that President Donald Trump will unveil Friday in Miami could adversely impact hotel brands that directly compete with Trump's business empire, making it more hard for them expand their foothold in Cuba.

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Tillerson had privately expressed support for Obama's Cuba policy during the transition, according to sources.

While campaigning past year in Miami, home to a large Cuban-American population, Trump pledged to reverse Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba unless it met certain "demands", including granting Cubans religious and political freedom, and releasing political prisoners.

Citing the lack of human rights concessions from Cuba in the detente negotiated by Obama, Mr Trump said, "It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration's awful and misguided deal with the Castro regime". That means that any USA traveler now booked on a flight to Cuba in the next few weeks, or even months, could go ahead and make the trip.

"The progress that we've made could be set back", Rodriguez, who runs a Cuban cybersecurity command center, said of the announcement expected Friday.

But Trump left in place many of Obama's changes, including the reopened United States embassy in Havana, even as he sought to show he was making good on a campaign promise to take a tougher line against Cuba, especially over its human rights record.

This new setback to the Cuban economy will come at a time when it is already wrestling with falling oil shipments from crisis-stricken ally Venezuela and a decline in exports.

Trump's new changes will now restrict Cuban travel again, imposing harsher enforcement of the current travel requirements and restricting "people-to-people" itineraries to group travel, rather than allowing individuals to travel on their own.

It could take years before the impact of Trump's policy changes are realized, in part because he is not wiping Obama's policies away with executive orders, but rather turning to a lengthy rulemaking process that will allow for a transition and negotiations with Havana, officials told reporters. I am announcing today a new policy just as I promised during the campaign. And the US government will police other such trips to ensure there's a tour group representative along making sure travelers are pursuing a "full-time schedule of educational exchange activities".

Cuban Americans at the Tabanero Cigar company in Ybor City are anxiously waiting to learn what changes President Donald Trump will make to the island nation.

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