Trump Unveils New Restrictions On Travel, Business With Cuba
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 6/16/2017, 1:57 p.m.
By Dan Merica
MIAMI (CNN) -- President Donald Trump slammed former President Barack Obama's dealings with the communist regime in Cuba on Friday in Miami, charting his own course of more confrontational relations with the Castro-led government.
The speech, which came as the President signed a directive outlining his posture toward Cuba, is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to chip away at Obama's legacy. Obama spent the last two years of his presidency looking to warm relations with Cuba, including a trip to the island in 2016.
"I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba," Trump said.
Casting the Obama administration as people who looked the other way on the Castro regime's human rights violations, Trump said that he, as President, will "expose the crimes of the Castro regime."
"They made a deal with a government that spread violence and instability in the region and nothing they got, think about it, nothing they got, they fought for everything and we just didn't fight hard enough, but now, those days are over," Trump said. "We now hold the cards. The previous administration's easing of restrictions of travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime."
Trump listed some of the Castro regime's anti-United States actions, ranging back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and added, "We will never, ever be blind to it. We know what is going on and we remember what happened."
Although Trump said he was "completely" canceling Obama's Cuba policy, the change is posture is only a partial shift from Obama's policy.
Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will remain open, as will the newly opened embassies in Washington and Havana. And there will be no further restrictions on the types of goods that Americans can take out of Cuba, including the country's popular rum and cigars.
Trump said he is keeping the embassy open "in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path."
The changes do, however, tighten restrictions on Cuba and ratchet up rhetoric on the Castro regime in hopes that it will lead to a transition of power on the island. Many presidents, though, have predicted the end of the Castros and, to date, none have been correct.
The Trump administration will begin strictly enforcing the authorized exemptions that allow travel between the US and Cuba and prohibit commerce with Cuban businesses owned by the military and intelligence services. The President also directed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to convene a task force on expanding Internet access on the island and reiterate the United States' opposition to efforts in the United Nations to lift the Cuban embargo until more is done to honor human rights.
"To the Cuban government, I say, put an end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic freedoms, return the fugitives from American justice, including the return of the cop killer Joanne Chesimard," Trump said, referencing the former Black Panther who was convicted of murder in 1977.