Cuban Americans speak out ahead of Trump's Little Havana visit

Posted June 16, 2017

Stopping short of a complete turnabout, President Donald Trump is expected Friday to announce a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of US cash to the country's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations and allowing USA airlines and cruise ships to continue service to the island.

While campaigning a year ago in Miami, which is home to a large Cuban-American population, Trump pledged to reverse Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba unless it met certain "demands", including granting Cubans religious and political freedom, and releasing all political prisoners.

After more than five months in office, President Donald Trump will unveil his new policy toward Cuba on Friday.

Getting to stroll through the colorful streets of Havana may soon be much harder for Americans. Born in Cuba and raised in the U.S., Godinez maintains close ties with his native country, collaborating with Cuban artists and co-teaching American students alongside Cuban scholars in Cuba. "If he takes it back to where it used to be with the embargo there is no hope for changes in Cuba".

Cuban-Americans will still be able to travel to Cuba and send remittances, limiting the impact on residents of Florida, where many Cuban emigres settled.

"The airlines might complain that they will see less demand for travel because travelers can no longer spend money at the military-run properties".

Any new prohibitions should prohibit US investments and business partnerships with the Cuban military and security services - including Cuban companies owned by the military - under existing general license authorizations enacted as part of the Obama administration's unwinding.

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The new policy will ban most USA business deals with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), a sprawling conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, but make exceptions related to air and sea travel, the officials said.

Educational trips and so-called "people-to-people" group exchanges will be 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. "We want to empower and we want to strengthen the Cuban people without strengthening the Cuban military, which controls a significant percentage of their economy".

"This is one way to ensure that individuals who travel to Cuba are participating in their itinerary and not just sitting on the beach", an official said. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) played a "central" role in helping the administration recast the policy, one official said, while other members of Congress were instrumental as well.

"The oppressors of the Cuban people are the Cuban government who have increased repression on the island against dissidents ... since reestablishing diplomatic relations".

Diplomatic relations reestablished by Obama, including reopened embassies in Washington and Havana, will remain.

At home, Trump's critics have questioned why his administration is now singling out Cuba for its human rights record while insisting that in other parts of the world it will not lecture other countries on the issue. "And you can tell where they are because there are dozens of people crowded around there", said Carlos Gutierrez, a Cuban-American who served as Commerce Secretary in the George W. Bush administration. Here's how it makes a fine Cuban cigar. Although Trump lost the Miami area to Hillary Clinton by double digits, he credits support from Cuban-Americans for helping him eke out a narrow victory statewide.