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Rep. Barbara Lee Slams President Trump's Backwards Decision on Cuba

16 Juin 2017

President Donald Trump is ready to announce "strategic, targeted changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba", U.S. Sen.

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.

The directive still leaves much of Obama's policy in place, including diplomatic relations and reopened embassies, the ability of Cuban Americans to travel and send money to family, and the congressionally mandated trade embargo.

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

Senior White House officials who briefed reporters Thursday on the coming announcement said Obama's overtures had enriched Cuba's military while repression increased on the island.

And they will saddle the US government with the complicated task of policing U.S.travel to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy.

The firm is now involved in joint ventures with several foreign firms, including the Marriott hotel chain.

When Obama lifted the ban on Americans bringing Cuba's fabled cigars and rum home from travel overseas for personal use, many took the opportunity to light one up and sip a glass of añejo.

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As a result, the changes - though far-reaching - appear to be less sweeping than many pro-engagement advocates had feared.

Mr Trump will seek a partial rollback of Obama's policies, limiting trade with businesses associated with the Cuban military-which is involved in large parts of the economy.

While tourist travel remained officially banned, Obama also allowed a broad category of "people to people" visits to Cuba.

Saying that the aim was to fix what Trump has called a "bad deal" struck by Obama, US officials said the new administration would leave the door open to improved relations if Cuba undertakes democratic reforms such as allowing free elections and releasing political prisoners.

The Trump administration said the new policy, which goes into effect Friday, does not target Cuban people, but rather the military regime.

What specific changes the Cuban government would have to make to their human rights approach in order to begin loosening relations again was not made clear. "It would be exceedingly disappointing to see the progress that has been made in the last two years halted and reversed by the Administration".

Some business leaders have also tried to convince Trump not to roll back Obama's Cuba policy. Marco Rubio - who were experts on Cuba policy. Dozens of US businesses and agricultural interests are operating in Cuba or want to, potentially worth billions of dollars a year.

The officials said that the previous policy under Obama "was enriching Cuban military and intelligence services that contributed to oppression". That seems odd given that the Trump administration is not particularly fond of pursuing that agenda in its foreign policy: there was no mention of human rights and political freedom during his visit to Saudi Arabia, for example.

Rep. Barbara Lee Slams President Trump's Backwards Decision on Cuba