Trump Expected To Restrict Trade, Travel With Cuba
Updated at 8:19 p.m. ET
President Trump is preparing to announce changes in U.S. policy toward
Cuba, possibly tightening restrictions on travel and trade that were
loosened under former President Barack Obama.
Trump is expected to announce the changes in Miami on Friday.
The move was confirmed by a congressional source with direct knowledge
of the situation.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been leading the push for a more
restrictive policy, along with his fellow Cuban-American, Rep. Mario
The changes could make it more difficult for Americans to visit the
island and for U.S. companies to do business there. The Obama
administration ended decades of economic and diplomatic isolation of
Cuba, in hopes that renewed engagement would lead to reforms in the
The White House declined to discuss the pending changes.
"When we have an announcement on the president's schedule, we'll let you
know," said spokesman Sean Spicer. "But just stay tuned."
Advocates for greater engagement with Cuba warn the administration's
changes could be costly.
"This is the opposite of 'America First.' This is America last," said
James Williams, who leads the nonpartisan lobbying group Engage Cuba.
He warns that reduced travel and trade with Cuba could cost thousands of
Travel to the island is already limited to visitors in 12 authorized
categories, but there is little enforcement. And with renewed commercial
air service, visits to Cuba have soared.
The administration is considering stepped up policing to discourage
pleasure travel and limiting visitors to one trip per year.
Williams says that would be especially hard on Cuban-Americans with
relatives on the island.
"Imagine, your mother is sick in Cuba," Williams said. "You might have
to decide between going to see her in the hospital bed before she dies
or going to the funeral. And that is just tragic."
Polls suggest a majority of Americans support greater engagement with
Cuba. Last month, 55 senators sponsored legislation that would further
relax travel restrictions.
The opening has also led to modest changes in Cuba, with increased
revenue for small-business owners and Internet hot spots in Havana.
"I think Cubans in Cuba will be terribly disheartened" by the renewed
restrictions, said Carlos Gutierrez, who served as commerce secretary
under former President George W. Bush. "This decision will not play well
anywhere, except for in those very cloistered spots in South Florida
where Sen. Rubio and Mario Diaz-Balart have constituents."
Shortly before Trump's inauguration, Rubio said in a statement that he
was heartened the new administration would reverse "the failed Cuba
policy of the last two years."
When the Obama administration policy was first rolled out in late 2014,
Rubio blasted the move.
"Just as when President Eisenhower severed diplomatic relations with
Cuba, the Castro family still controls the country, the economy and all
levers of power. This administration's attempts to loosen restrictions
on travel in recent years have only served to benefit the regime," he
said in a statement. "But most importantly, the regime's brutal
treatment of the Cuban people has continued unabated. Dissidents are
harassed, imprisoned and even killed."
Source: President Trump Is Planning More Restrictive Cuba Policy : NPR -