Trump Blasts Cuba, Strengthens Embargo

June 16, 2017 |

He also makes it more difficult for US citizens to travel to the island

Desires. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – US President Donald Trump announced today in Miami the “cancellation” of the policy toward Cuba of his predecessor, Barack Obama, despite the fact that the measures he is about to implement are far from reversing the historical approach implemented by the Democrat.

To effectively prevent any possibility of US tourism to the island and try to keep dollars from reaching the government of Raul Castro are at the center of the changes, reported dpa news.

But many of Obama’s moves remain. The embassies, which reopened in 2015 after more than 50 years of disruption of diplomatic relations, will continue to function. Direct commercial flights and cruises will continue. [Of course this will also depend on the flow of passengers under the new restrictions.]

Remittances from the United States will continue to flow. To the disappointment of thousands of Cubans in third countries and others wishing to emigrate, Trump will not reinstate the policy of “dry feet, wet feet,” which guaranteed residence to Cubans who managed to enter US territory by any means.

Trump in Miami on June 16, 2017.  Photo: AP

“I am canceling the completely unilateral agreement with Cuba from the previous administration,” he said at a Little Havana theater, the historic neighborhood of Cuban exiles in Miami, filled by Cuban-Americans, including veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasions.

With a deeply anti-Castro language not listened to since the presidency of George W. Bush, Trump said he will seek to negotiate a better deal for the people of Cuba and the United States.

“Today, Cuba is governed by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to extend their repressive and failed ideology in our hemisphere and who once tried to harbor enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our coast,” said Trump.

“The Castro regime has sent arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela,” he said.  “It has supported human trafficking, forced labor and exploitation across the globe.”

The new US policy eliminates any possibility of US citizens legally conducting tourism trips to the island and prohibits US companies from doing business with Cuban companies controlled by the military and the secret services.

Students in the Cuban countryside. Photo: Juan Suarez

The latter measure is targeted at GAESA, the business arm of the Cuban armed forces, which US experts estimate controls around 60 percent of the island’s economy and 80 percent of the tourism sector.

Trump spoke of a “strengthening of the embargo,” flexibilized by Obama with executive orders before the impossibility to lift it due to the opposition in the Congress. “Our new policy begins with strict compliance with US law,” Trump said.

US citizens were banned from outright tourism in Cuba even under Obama.  However,  the former president relaxed the procedures by which they can rely on 12 ways to travel there. Trump now eliminates the fact that they are eligible for the “people to people” program, which officially has educational and cultural objectives but in reality has served as undercover tourism. Organized groups with strict rules can continue to use this modality.

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Questions and Answers from the US Treasury Department.

Read the Cuban government’s reaction here.

 

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  • Moses Patterson

    I bet those Castros that mocked Obama after his historic visit to the island last March are wishing they had taken his admonitions more seriously. They didn’t realize how quickly that window of opportunity would close.

    • Wayne Pitchko

      What else would you expect from the KKKlueless KKKlan
      And his KKKlueless followers in the USArms……….I haven’t been
      To the USArms for years….don’t feel safe….won’t pack a gun..
      Looking forward to next trip to Cuba in n Oct ………where we always feel safe…

      • Moses Patterson

        I would expect rigorous debate. And the freedom of dissenters from the Trump policy to express their differences in the public square without fear of government retribution. None of these expectations exist today for Cubans.

        • Wayne

          “Debate”…..Drumpf debate…gimme a break…..I if the USArms were smart
          ….there would never be an embargo….it only hurts the PEOPLE….and actually
          Supports the government……by…..always giving Castro govt that excuse
          to be able to blame the USArms

    • N.J. Marti

      Obama was a very decent and honorable partner that the Castro’s under appreciated. Trump in reality keeping much of Obama policy on Cuba.

      • Moses Patterson

        Yes, while it is true that on paper he is changing very little, the tone that Trump is using is dramatically different. Foreign investors will pull back, to the extent they were willing in the first place, based on his negative tone.

        • Brian Tracey

          you mean American investors, as a Canadian, I’ve seen all sorts of investment from the world at large in Cuba, not just Russia and china but a lot of countries from Europe, asia . and south America. Continue your American Blinded view of trade in the world

          • Moses Patterson

            If what you say were true, why has all this awesome NON-AMERICAN investment, so far, failed to materialize in any measurably significant fashion? Have you been to the much-heralded Port of Mariel Economic Zone lately? Ghost town.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      It was their choice Moses, commencing with that vitriolic ‘letter’ supposedly written by Fidel Castro (but no doubt actually by the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba) on March 28, 2016 and the speech by Bruno Rodriguez the following day, that there would be no reciprocation by Cuba to the initiatives of Barack Obama.
      Anyone with the slightest inkling of how much control is wielded by Raul Castro, knows that both the ‘Fidel’ letter and the Rodriguez speech were at his instigation.
      Despite changing the portraits of Raul littered around Cuba on buildings, hoardings, in classrooms and the incompetent Postal offices to ones of him wearing his ‘diplomatic’ tailor made suits with silk ties, from the older ones of Raul in his self designed military uniform, he remains an arrogant dictator – no change there at all!
      The subsequent meetings between the lady representatives of the US and Cuba, were a waste of time – Cuba stuck to the announced ‘no reciprocation’ policy.
      I would not change a single word of my analysis in ‘Cuba Lifting the Veil’.
      In the introduction I wrote:

      “Cubans are denied what is perhaps the least recognized but possibly the most important right for those who live in the free world. That is simply the right to openly disagree with the opinions of others and especially political viewpoints. The Castro communist regime rigidly demands conformity to their view, no other is permitted. That imposition has not changed and there is no indication whatever of any such change being introduced or anticipated.”

      We who express our views here in Havana Times demonstrate that right to disagree because we are free so to do. Such is the difference between democracy and communism.

      • Nick

        You actually think that trump has ever even heard of Bruno Rodriguez?
        Do you seriously think that this has anything to do with some Fidel Castro letter?
        You most surely inhabit some kind of parallel fantasy land.
        trump is in a mess. The big question is how long does this embarrassment of a President last for.
        He’s going to try to hang on in there.
        And in between dodging the flak………
        Hey lets go down to Miami and find a bunch or right wing one trick ponies to make a speech to.
        That old presidential fail-safe of being tough on Cuba.
        Get some shots on TV of people applauding him.
        I seem recall a report last year of trump previously breaking the embargo and trying to invest in Cuba via some third party set-up. Was that ever fully investigated or just brushed under the rug?
        Raul Castro is due to step down next year.
        I wonder if this dangerous and pitiful trump mess will have gone prior to that……..

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          Trump(f) was not involved in any way in the processes pursued by Barack Obama. Bruno Rodriguez as Foreign Minister spoke on behalf of the Castro regime. I am able to say that which I wrote, because I witnessed the visit of Obama to Cuba from start to finish. I watched Mesa Redondo on the 28th March, 2016 when it took just over 10 minutes to read the so-called ‘Fidel’ letter.
          I did not even mention Trump(f) in my contribution, it is your evident fascination with him which compelled you to drag him into your somewhat disjointed and unrelated response.

          • Nick

            I think you must indeed inhabit a parallel fantasy world.
            I mention trump in my comment because the article is quite obviously about trump.
            It’s about him, what he announced down in Miami and his intended policies toward Cuba.
            Perhaps, in your parallel fantasy world, you think that the article is about you, your book, what tv shows you tune into and your fanatical and obsessive dislike of the system of governance in Cuba?

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            An unusually pathetic comment even for you Nick. However upon one point you are almost accurate. I detest communism and dictatorship.

          • Nick

            Perhaps you like to see this comments section merely as a platform for your one sided viewpoints.
            If that’s how you look at it, that’s fine.
            If you want to fire off hot-headed remarks, that’s also fine.
            But alternatively you could maybe try to be a little more understanding and tolerant toward those with more rational and even-handed points of view.
            Or even just toward those who simply happen to have differing viewpoints to your own.
            You don’t like it when others can see a bigger picture as many contributors here obviously can.
            And you don’t like this to be pointed out anymore than you like it when a comment of yours is shown to be factually inaccurate.
            It’s all just fine with me.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            How gracious of you Nick. Your conceit that you are “more rational and even-handed” is laughable!

    • bjmack

      No one did Moses, look who’s our with a small “p” president.

    • demomar

      I have to agree with you on this issue.

    • Mark Williams

      For once, I agree with you. We could count on the GOP to turn the clock back on hope and collectively punish the poor of Cuba for a political revolution 60 years ago

      • Moses Patterson

        Then, for once, you have chosen correctly. :)

  • Ken Hiebert

    Just one example of the embargo at work.

    According to the Canadian Network On Cuba the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department has fined the American Honda Finance Corporation (AHFC) $87,255
    for approving and financing between February 2011 and March 2014 the leasing by
    Honda Canada Finance Inc. of 13 cars to the Embassy of Cuba in Canada.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Very interesting Ken, Cuba has about 20 cars (including taxis) for every 1,000 citizens, but the Cuban Embassy in Canada apparently needs and can afford to finance 13 new cars – does it have a staff of 650?

      • Ken Hiebert

        I wondered about that myself, Was it 13 cars all at the same time? Or 13 cars one after the other?
        I don’t know the answer to that.

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          When I saw Raul and entourage on the Autopista, there were five cars – all one after the other.

  • curt9954

    So when I go to the Havana Jazz Festival in January, is the Trump administration going to have spies following me? Upon my return when I tell U.S Customs that I’m Cuban American (I’m not) are they going to check my DNA? When I go I will stay at a casa particular and will not spend thousands of dollars on a U.S sanctioned tour. Trump can take his new policy and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

  • Wayne Pitchko

    Mr Moses…..part of da KKKlueless. DRumpf KKKlan

    • Moses Patterson

      KKK? Uuuff! That’s harsh….and patently false.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        I guess Moses that Mr. Pitchko is infected with the John Wayne cowboy syndrome!

        Let me ask you Wayne Pitchko, how many members of the KKK were or are black?

        • Wayne

          Being on the progressive/liberal left wing of the political spectrum….and you call me as being “infected with the JW syndrome”…..as I told Moses I really didn’t word my response to him very well….and appollogized….I was referring to the KKKlueless that follow and support Drumpf….as for your silly question
          It’s really not worth responding to.

      • Wayne

        Sorry…didn’t mean to be harsh….badly worded…..I’m just referring to KKKluless
        Drumpf…..and absolute KKKlueless remarks towards Cuba…I mostly disagree
        With most of what you say….but have no problem respecting your comments.

        • Moses Patterson

          Apologies accepted

  • Kevin Eisner

    I just want to thank trump. As a Canadian who visits and loves Cuba and its beautiful people, I was worried that American presence would ruin the culture of the people and the way of life there. The 1960’s are over. America get over it. Trump is not hurting the government in Cuba. It is hurting the beautiful residents that live there. The infrastructure could use upgrading for sure that investment would start, but they will survive without you. Cuban people are a proud people. I visit and see this every time I go. Your loss…

    • larrybudwiser

      You should proudly continue your support of an oppressive regime, know world wide for the suppression of liberty and human rights. Next time you visit, please bring some guns and bullets for your host.

    • Michael Ritchie

      My sentiment as well. I’ve been visiting Cuba for quite a while and long feared the day when “Ugly Americans” would discover what I’d found– the most beautiful country and sincerely wonderful people in the world.
      At first opening it was not too bad, a few North Americans came and I could see a few Cubans benefiting.
      But then the tour groups and cruise ships followed (as I knew they would).
      The tour groups now disrupt the quiet and dignity of my happy place, the Hotel Nacional. Liberal North Americans gripe about smoking in the bar (where a good Monte Cristo has been enjoyed in peace for decades).
      Hordes of cruise passengers are flooding the streets of Vieja, buying nothing more than a t-shirt or refrigerator magnet and creating massive congestion.
      Cruise ships will destroy the quality of life in Vieja as they have in my hometown of Key West.
      So I’m actually happy to see this whole affair slowed.
      Few average Cubans will be hurt in the long run because they weren’t helped to begin with. And the government in Cuba will be given time to do its much-needed infrastructure repairs before the eventual real opening to mass tourism.
      I was disappointed to hear President Trump’s jingoist rhetoric, “Cuba si, Castro no!” however. It is clear that he never knew anything about Cuba and Cuban pride.

      • curt9954

        I couldn’t agree with you more. Let’s just hope Trump’s new regulations won’t devastate the Cuban people too much.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        Michael there is an error in your writing: “few North Americans came”. North Americans have provided the largest portion of visitors to Cuba for many years!
        Don’t get confused between North Americans and Americans. The former includes Canadians, the latter does not. I realise that many Americans think of themselves as being:
        “practically sovereign on this continent”
        but that reflects a combination of conceit and ignorance.
        Who burnt down the White House having invaded the US?

    • Iseedumbpoliticians

      Maybe you should rethink returning.
      The American cruise ships and American tours will still be going to Cuba.

    • Wayne

      Agree

  • Nick

    Pathetic.
    The sooner they scrub this stain out of The White House the better.
    Either that or someone’s gotta get Putin to control his little orange puppet.

  • Ken Hiebert

    Another example of the embargo in action, I found this item on the website of the U. S. Treasury Department. The embargo appears to be quite far-reaching.

    https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/CivPen/Documents/20170113_td_bank.pdf
    Toronto-Dominion Bank (“TD
    Bank”), a financial institution headquartered in Toronto, Canada, has agreed to remit $516,105 to
    settle its potential civil liability for 167 apparent violations of § 515.201 of the Cuban Assets
    Control Regulations,

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Very interesting Ken. But at least the Directors of the TD were not banned from entering the US unlike others!

      • Ken Hiebert

        It is difficult for Cuba to conduct international trade without banking services. If these penalties applied to the TD bank are repeated elsewhere, they must have a big impact.
        The Cuban use of the word “blockade” does not seem so unreasonable.

  • Chuck1938

    Cuba has no valid excuse for the dreadful position it finds itself today. The historic visit and later normalizing relations between both countries by Barack Obama, was squandered pitifully. Many pointed this foot dragging to the persistent racism in Cuba, which precluded the official recognition of such a monumental achievement to a black man.

    Be it as it may, the shameful reality was to watch this man-made circus, led by an about to be indicted crook surrounded by proven Cuba-haters, clamor for more pain and suffering on the Cuban people.

    I was forced to reflect on a similar gathering in the same city 60 years ago, when an adrenalin-filled speech by then president John F. Kennedy promised the returning Bay of pigs prisoners, that their defeated flag would be delivered in Cuba. This statement and plans of a US invasion of Cuba by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, lead the world to the brink of a nuclear conflagration during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    An educated, visionary, steady-headed president John F. Kennedy opened a back channel communications/negotiation with premier Jhruschov and both were able to pull back the world the precipice, only to have a buffoon attempting to re-enact such a tragic event.

    As I see an obtuse, irrational, tax evader, foul-mouth, tweeting addict president Donald Trump go down the same unfortunate trail, I fear his lack of intellect will preclude him from negotiating himself out the quagmire he is building to divert attention from the legal quicksand that will eventually devour his administration.

    • Wayne

      Agrre

  • N.J. Marti

    Certain hotels to get hit to benefit of cruise ships. Most everything else remains as under Obama. Negotiations all ready under way with further deals to be announced next spring after new President takes office in Cuba. Raul will still be calling the shots, but even fake elections will provide cover for new deals.

  • Iseedumbpoliticians

    In other words, very little changes under Trump and it’s business as usual.

    I’ve been there and the Americans were great…..the Russians and a couple of other nationalities were the rudest people I’ve ever seen.