Strategic observation

Spotlight: Trump curtails Obama-era's opening with Cuba

2017-06-17 05:33:21 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he walks to board Marine One departing from the White House en route to Miami to announce his Cuba policy, in Washington D.C., the United States, on June 16, 2017. U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday announced new restrictions on U.S. leisure travel to Cuba and U.S. business with Cuban military. (Xinhua/Shen Ting)

WASHINGTON, June 16 (Xinhua) -- After targeting his predecessor Barack Obama's legacies in global trade and climate change, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday announced plans to roll back parts of Obama-era's opening with Cuba.

Speaking at a rally at Miami's Little Havana, Florida, Trump announced new restrictions on Americans' travel to Cuba and U.S. business with Cuban military while keeping the restoration of normal U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties untouched.

"It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration's terrible and misguided deal," said Trump.

Under Trump's new directive, U.S. individuals and companies will be prohibited from doing commerce with Cuban businesses, including the Cuban tourism sector, owned by the Cuban military.

As to travel, Americans who travel to Cuba for non-academic educational purposes will be required to visit Cuba through tour groups, and the self-directed and individual travel, permitted by the Obama administration, will be prohibited.

Trump also reaffirmed U.S. statutory embargo of Cuba.

The Cuban government had no immediate comment.

"The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade do not help the Cuban people," said Trump, adding that effective immediately, he was canceling Obama's "completely one-sided deal" with Cuba.

However, according to a White House statement released during Trump's speech, the policy changes "will not take effect until those (U.S.) Departments have finalized their new regulations."

Despite his effort to roll back parts of Obama's Cuba policy, Trump left many of Obama's legacy intact, including remaining U.S. embassy in Cuba.

"Our embassy (in Cuba) remains open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path," he said.

Calling the policy changes "moderate," Sebastian Arcos, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute, told Xinhua that Trump was making adjustments to, instead of cancelling Obama's Cuba policy, and the impact on U.S.-Cuba relationship was limited.

"I don't think things are going to change in a significant way," said Arcos. "The United States will always react to what the Cuban government did. Trump is trying to adjust in a way that doesn't help the (Cuban) government that much."

While the policy changes aligned Trump with hawkish Cuban-American Republicans in the U.S. Congress, Trump soon met with opposition from his own party.

Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican lawmaker from Arizona, said in a statement that any policy change that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba "is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people."

Together with other 54 co-sponsors, Flake was introducing a bipartisan bill to allow Americans to travel to Cuba for tourism purposes.

In December 2014, in the most sweeping change in U.S.-Cuban relations in five decades, Obama announced plans to normalize ties with Cuba in a move that quickly sparked much controversy in the United States.

Since then, improvements have been made in U.S.-Cuban diplomatic, social and commercial ties, with the U.S. opening an embassy in Cuba, increasing flights to Cuba, and some U.S. businesses expanding into the island nation for the first time in five decades.

America severed ties with Cuba in 1961, shortly after Fidel Castro launched a revolution that toppled a U.S.-friendly government, and the two countries had been at loggerheads ever since.

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