President Donald Trump said Friday he is “canceling” the Obama administration’s historic shift to a more open stance toward Cuba, taking particular aim at travel and transactions with Cuba’s military but leaving many policies in place.
The most tangible change will be an end to a directive that allowed for individuals to plan their own trips to Cuba, a provision that essentially ended a U.S. ban on travel. Left standing are provisions that allow Americans to travel to Cuba in groups and for purposes such as education or professional purposes.
“Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law,” Mr. Trump said at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. The U.S., he added, would “very strongly restrict American dollars” flowing to Cuba’s military and enforce a tourism ban.
Mr. Trump castigated the Cuban government for human-rights abuses and said the longstanding U.S. embargo would remain in place until the Cuban government holds free elections, releases political prisoners, legalizes all political parties and takes other steps to open up its society.
However, the U.S. Embassy in Havana will remain open, Mr. Trump said, with the hope that the U.S. and Cuba can come to a better arrangement. He faulted the Obama administration’s policy for benefiting the Castro regime.
Mr. Trump’s speech drew a quick condemnation from Havana, with Granma, the official newspaper of Cuba’s ruling Communist Party, calling it “a return to the rhetoric of the Cold War which seemed to have been overcome.”
Scheduled air service between the U.S. and Cuba resumed last summer for the first time in 50 years. Cuba attracted a record 4 million foreign- visitor arrivals last year, up 13% from 2015, according to the Cuban government. While Canadians remained the largest group, Cuban Americans and other U.S. visitors numbered 614,000, up 34% from the prior year. But supply outstripped demand, and three U.S. airlines quit the market this year.
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