Republicans divided as Trump reverses some Obama Cuba policy


"Officially, today, they are rejected". Now that I am your president.

"I am announcing today a new policy just as I promised during the campaign". The policy bans most financial transactions with a yet-unreleased list of entities associated with Cuba's military and state security, including a conglomerate that dominates much of Cuba's economy, such as many hotels, state-run restaurants and tour buses.

Under the expected changes, the US will ban American financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA, which operates dozens of hotels, tour buses, restaurants and other facilities.

Many recent changes to boost ties to Cuba will stay as they are, and Trump still wants to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much stronger and better path".

Trump will re-impose the requirement that "people-to-people" travelers can only come to Cuba with heavily regulated tour groups.

While tourism to Cuba is banned by US law, the Obama administration had been allowing people to travel to Cuba as part of "people to people" educational trips for visitors, a popular classification that a White House official said was "ripe for abuse" by those looking for beach vacations. This will essentially shield USA airlines and cruise-ship companies now serving the island.

Worldwide human rights groups say, however, that reinstating a US policy of isolating the island could make the situation worse by empowering Cuban hardliners.

Trump's speech vowed to protect Cubans and Cuban-Americans, especially those persecuted by the Castro regime. But none of the changes will become effective until the Treasury Department issues new regulations, which could take months. US farmers can continue selling their crops to the Cuban government. It said in part: "These changes will disadvantage our businesses and undermine American tourism, which will also hurt the Cuban people ..."

Cuba's 1,470-word statement Friday night labeled Trump a hypocrite for calling on Cuba to improve human rights, saying the US government "is threatening more limits on health care that would leave 23 million people without insurance. and marginalizes immigrants and refugees, particular those from Islamic countries".

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The new policy aims to starve military-linked businesses of cash by banning any US payments to them.

The U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution.

By putting his decision in terms of service to U.S. values and human rights, while taking a practical measure to defund Cuban state entities he is trying to recast the embargo as a measure against Raul Castro and government - not the Cuban people.

Unable to persuade Congress to lift the decades-old trade embargo, Obama had used his power to adjust the rules that implement the embargo to expand built-in loopholes. Marco Rubio said on Twitter, that Americans will have to find accommodation in privately controlled places, like Airbnbs. The senator, who challenged Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, was expected to travel with the president aboard Air Force One and appear with him at Friday's announcement.

President Donald Trump speaks about Cuba policy, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Miami.

Cuba regretted "a reversal in relations between the two countries", the statement said.

"There is selective outrage here when it comes to human rights and this Cuban-American community down here in Miami is still vitally important and you'll talk to Cuban-Americans who will say this is not a monolithic community".

"I am totally sure that this is much better that what Obama did", said Lopez, who arrived in the 1960.