President Donald Trump is set to announce curbs on U.S. firms doing business with the Cuban military and tighter rules on travel to the island Friday, as he moves to roll back an opening initiated by Barack Obama.
The president is expected to cast the policy moves as fulfillment of a promise he made during last year's presidential campaign to reverse then-President Barack Obama's diplomatic re-engagement with the island after decades of estrangement.
What about Cuban-Americans? A 2016 poll by Florida International University among Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County found that 63 percent opposed the continuation of the embargo and 57 percent supported expanding economic relations between USA companies and the island.
Engage Cuba, a group lobbying for an end to the embargo, estimates that 10,000 United States jobs in aviation and the cruise business already depend on Cuba.
Although most U.S. citizens, including Cuban Americans, have welcomed the normalization of U.S. -Cuba relations, Trump may undo some of the recent changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba because of domestic political concerns.
The Cuban military has been expanding its reach into the tourist industry, with its holding company, the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), owning the best hotels and most retail outlets, rental vehicle companies and import entities. And they will saddle the USA government with the complicated task of policing U.S.travel to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy.
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Trump and others who back the changes want to pressure the Castro regime to allow the island's private sector to grow and to stop beating and imprisoning political opponents, which dissident groups say increased after Obama's diplomatic thaw. "Prior to that, it was not clear to some if the Obama policy toward Cuba would work; today it is clear that the Obama policy toward Cuba does not".
Much of Trump's policy appears based on S.1489, a bill proposed by Sen.
Rubio, a Cuban policy hardliner, has said that the change is positive as "economic practices that benefit the Cuban military at the expense of the Cuban people will soon be coming to an end".
The new Trump policy will also prohibit most commercial transactions that allow money to flow to the Cuban military.
Selling Cuban cigars, importing Cuban cigars and having Cuban cigars shipped to America remain illegal.
Trump will not go so far as to sever diplomatic ties with Havana or shutter the US embassy that reopened there in 2015. Marco Rubio, both Cuban-American Republicans from South Florida.
The senior White House officials said Trump would direct executive branch agencies to ratchet up enforcement of this banned tourism through regulations. Those categories include family visits, official government business, education and religious activities, health clinics, and "support for the Cuban people". "It's a better deal for the Cuban people, which is who we're trying to help here, by empowering them, and doing so in a way that does not empower their oppressors", he said. It argues that the government carries out human rights abuses, though many policy experts believe the new regulations will not improve human rights in Cuba. Relaxed travel laws allowed hundreds of thousands of Americans to visit Cuba for the first time.