Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Trump unveils new Cuba trade and travel restrictions

US president says he is restoring some of the restrictions lifted after the Obama administration's detente with Cuba.

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump has reversed parts of his predecessor Barack Obama's diplomatic re-engagement with Cuba, tightening rules on Americans travelling there and restricting US companies dealing with enterprises controlled by the island nation's military.

Speaking at a rally in Miami on Friday, Trump said: "Last year I pledged to be a voice against oppression, and here I am like I promised. Now that I am your president ... We will stand with the Cuban people in the struggle for freedom.

"Effective immediately, I am cancelling the last government's one-sided deal with Cuba."

"We won't lift sanctions on the Cuban regime and all political prisoners and freed ... until free and internationally recognised elections are held."

Trump's revised approach, which will be enshrined in a new presidential directive, calls for stricter enforcement of a longtime ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists.

The new policy is also expected to ban most US business deals with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), a sprawling conglomerate run by General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, son-in-law of Cuban President Raul Castro.

GAESA operates dozens of hotels, tour buses, restaurants and other facilities.

Yet, parts of Obama's diplomatic breakthrough in December 2014 are expected to remain intact, including the reopened US embassy in Cuba's capital, Havana, and the restoration of relations between Cold War-era foes.

Engage Cuba, a group lobbying for an end to the embargo, estimates that 10,000 US jobs in aviation and the cruise business already depend on Cuba.

Some 285,000 people visited the Caribbean country in 2016, up 74 percent over 2015, with Americans the third biggest group after Canadians and Cuban expats.

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