Trump Plans Major Restrictions on Cuba Travel

Cuban immigrant Hermes Vigoa who arrived in the U.S. two years before Obama canceled the fast-track citizenship system gives an interview outside his home in Miami Florida. Vigoa 46 was detained

Cuban immigrant Hermes Vigoa who arrived in the U.S. two years before Obama canceled the fast-track citizenship system gives an interview outside his home in Miami Florida. Vigoa 46 was detained

President Donald Trump on Friday will tighten rules on Americans traveling to Cuba and significantly restrict USA companies from doing business with Cuban enterprises controlled by the military, according to US officials who have seen a draft presidential memorandum.

He is set to make his Cuba speech at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami, named after a Cuban-American exile who led the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

"Educational trips and so-called "people-to-people" group exchanges will fall under greater scrutiny, with educational groups once again having to travel with a guide from a USA organization sponsoring the trip, a requirement the Obama policy had effectively eliminated", the Miami Herald reported.

Getting to stroll through the colorful streets of Havana may soon be much harder for Americans. In Miami, then-candidate Trump called for a reversal of Obama's normalization of Cuba policy, saying he would demand religious and political freedom for the Cuban people as well as the release of political prisoners.

From a US business perspective, tightening sanctions on travel and trade with Cuba makes little sense.

Many Cubans have relatives in the United States and they soak up Americans sports and culture.

According to the Miami Herald, President Trump will tighten travel restrictions and ban US spending with any state-run businesses tied to the military.

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Taking a tougher approach against Cuba after promising to do so during the presidential campaign, Trump will make clear that a ban on US tourism to Cuba remains in effect and his administration will beef up enforcement of travel rules under authorized categories, the officials said.

"Our policy is to focus effort on assisting the Cuban people, not enriching the Cuban military", one top adviser said, an implicit charge that the Obama administration did just that. Trump's new policy would not reflect the views of almost three-quarters of US citizens.

But even some global human rights groups critical of the Cuban government say that would mean doubling down on a failed policy.

"No, I don't think that Trump will undo everything that Obama did, everything that Obama accomplished, let's say", said Wayne Smith, a former USA diplomat who was once stationed in Havana.

The government says Cuba's electoral system is one of the world's most democratic because municipal assembly delegates are nominated by neighbors and do not have to belong to the Communist Party. The Department of Treasury will create the new regulations and none of the changes will take effect until the regulations are completed.

GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, where many Cuban Americans still despise the Castro regime, applauded the move even though it could cost airlines and other tourism businesses money. "It's a better deal for the Cuban people, which is who we're trying to help here, by empowering them, and doing so in a way that does not empower their oppressors", he said. Miami is home to the largest Cuban-American community.

"While the news comes as a step back for travel to Cuba, it is business as usual for Intrepid Travel", said Leigh Barnes, director of Intrepid Group North America.

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