President Donald J. Trump has signed a directive charting a new course in U.S. relations with Cuba. Citing the continuing repression of the Cuban people by the Castro regime, President Trump imposed new restrictions on U.S. travel to and business with Cuba, thereby reversing parts of an executive order by the Obama administration aimed at easing relations with the Cuban government.
In a speech in Miami, Florida, announcing the shift in policy, President Trump declared that that the “previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people -– they only enrich the Cuban regime:”
“The profits from investment and tourism flow directly to the military. The regime takes the money and owns the industry. The outcome of the last administration’s executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful, democratic movement.”
The new U.S. policy channels economic activities away from the Cuban military while allowing American individuals and entities to develop economic ties to the private, small business sector in Cuba. It makes clear that the primary obstacle to the Cuban people’s prosperity and economic freedom is a stifling, state-controlled economic system – including the Cuban military’s extensive presence throughout the Cuban economy.
The policy also enhances travel restrictions to better enforce the statutory ban on U.S. tourism to Cuba; among other changes, travel for non-academic educational purposes will be limited to group travel.
In addition, the new directive reaffirms the U.S. embargo on Cuba. President Trump declared, “We will not lift sanctions…until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.”
The United States embassy will remain open, said President Trump, “in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path…When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps…we will be ready, willing, and able to come to the table to negotiate that much better a deal for Cubans, for Americans.”
The United States, declared Mr. Trump, “believes that free, independent, and sovereign nations are the best vehicle for human happiness...” At the same time, he added, “we all accept that all nations have the right to chart their own paths…so we will respect Cuban sovereignty. But we will never turn our backs on the Cuban people. That will not happen.”