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Trump Announces New Cuba Restrictions

President Donald Trump announced his official policy on Cuba on Friday in Miami in front of a crowd of Cuban-American lawmakers and hardline Cuban exiles. He promised the anti-Castro Republican Cuban-Americans in South Florida during his 2016 campaign that he would seek to roll back the thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba that was initiated starting in 2014 by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro. The Cuban government hit back at the announcement calling it a provocation. But the question is: what did he actually roll back? His rhetoric is certainly strong,

“Last year, I promised to be a voice against repression. In our region, remember tremendous repression and a voice for the freedom of the Cuban people. You heard that pledge. You exercised the right you have to vote. You went out and you voted, and here I am like I promised…Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”

It does restrict travel from average Americans traveling to the island under the 12 visas that Obama’s administration set up for cultural and person-to-person exchanges. But it still allows airlines and cruise ships to travel there. Cuban-Americans like me can still stravel there and send money to relatives. Trump is also not reinstating the controversial “wet foot/dry foot” policy that Obama did away with which allowed any Cuban that entered the U.S. automatic residency. American businesses, (Like Trump’s organization), can still do business with the island as long as it doesn’t deal with the military or intelligence services. Most importantly the embassy in Havana and Washington will remain open, so diplomatic ties have not been severed.

In truth this is more of a showpiece to placate hardline Cuban-American politicians like Marco Rubio and Mario Diaz-Balart than it is any real change to our policies regarding Cuba. Like the entire approach to Cuba has been since the 60’s this will only effect the Cuban people negatively and do nothing to foster any kind of change in the island. What the Cuban-American hardliners in South Florida can’t seem to comprehend is that the embargo is a failed policy. The idea is that if they force things to get sufficiently bad the Cuban people will rise up and overthrow the Castros. If this didn’t happen during the “special period” in the 90’s after the fall of the Soviet Union it isn’t going to happen now.

This has nothing to do with human rights, freedom, or any other factor other than politics. Trump needs the support of Marco Rubio and Diaz-Balart for his Trumpcare bill and his ongoing Russia investigation and they will play ball after him throwing them some scraps with regard to Cuba. Mark my words, whether in a year or when he leaves office, Trump left the door open to build a hotel on el Malecon in Havana, one in Varadero, and a nice golf course in Matanzas he can go play in.

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