June 15 (UPI) — Making good on promises to crack down on Cuba, President Donald Trump is expected to announce changes to existing U.S. policy during a trip to Miami on Friday — rolling back many of the steps taken by former President Barack Obama‘s administration.
The president has been critical of actions that intended to warm decades of icy relations with the communist island nation — efforts punctuated by a trip to Havana a year ago, on which Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in nearly a century.
Trump believes many of Obama’s efforts undermine U.S. and Cuban economic interests, as well as national security. He has promised to roll back certain parts of the reforms since announcing his candidacy in 2015.
“My administration’s policy will be guided by key U.S. national security interests and solidarity with the Cuban people,” a draft of the presidential directive states, Politico reported Thursday. “I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people. To that end, we must ensure that U.S. funds are not channeled to a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society.”
According to Trump’s eight-page directive, U.S. businesses will be restricted from transacting with Cuban businesses tied to the country’s military — although recently reestablished U.S. commercial travel to Cuba will be allowed to continue, The Miami Herald reported.
The Trump administration says the goal of the directive is to end business practices that enrich Havana’s government but fail to benefit the Cuban people.
“The policy the Trump administration is announcing regarding Cuba is based on President Trump’s core conviction that what the Cuban exile community is asking for is right and just,” the White House said in a statement to Politico. “The oppressors of the Cuban people are the Cuban government who have increased repression on the island against dissidents and Ladies in White since reestablishing diplomatic relations. 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.”
The expected directive Friday instructs the Treasury and Commerce Departments to establish new rules within three months.
Independent Cuban enterprises not affiliated with the military, which are smaller and far fewer in number, will still be permitted to do business with U.S. citizens and companies under Trump’s policy, Politico’s report said.
In Miami, Trump is also expected to reiterate support for the United States’ 1961 trade embargo against Cuba — which has been the most harmful U.S. provision against Havana in the decades since diplomatic relations first soured with the communist revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.
There was some talk of removing the trade embargo during Obama’s efforts to normalize relations, but the former president ultimately left the crippling blockade in place. Obama’s State Department did, however, remove Cuba from a sanctions list of nations considered state sponsors of terror in 2015.
Friday’s announcement is expected to be made by Trump at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami — which, at a distance of about 230 miles, is the closest major American city to Cuba.
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