politics

Trump Is Expected To Change The U.S. Policy On Cuba After A Review Led By Cuban-American Politicians

Gage Skidmore / Elvert Barnes / Flickr

President Donald Trump is expected to make a substantial announcement about U.S.-Cuba relations on Friday. According to NPR, both Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart have been working closely with Trump to restrict both travel and trade in Cuba. NPR is also reporting that one of the new restrictions expected to be announced on Friday is limiting trips to the country to only one time a year. This change could have heartbreaking impact on Cuban-Americans with family still on the island.

“Imagine, your mother is sick in Cuba,” James Williams, the president of Engage Cuba, which is a non-profit group of private companies and organizations to help open ties between the U.S. and Cuba, told NPR. “You might have to decide between going to see her in the hospital bed before she dies or going to the funeral. And that is just tragic.”

But those in favor of restricting some travel and trade to Cuba argue that restricting the amount of foreign money going into the island will only motivate the Cuba to make changes to its government. According to Miami Herald, many Cuban dissidents believe it’s the right time to apply pressure to the Castro regime to implement policies that will benefit the Cuban people, not the Cuban government.

“We believe that this is the moment for a maximum reversal of some policies that only benefit the Castro regime and does very little or nothing for the oppressed people. It is time to impose strong sanctions on the regime of Raúl Castro,” Cuban dissident leader José Daniel Ferrer wrote in an open letter to Trump. He added: “The time has come to impose strong sanctions to Raul Castro’s regime, and also to that of Nicolás Maduro. Because of its high position in the free world, the U.S. should not remain indifferent to the crimes committed by both of these regimes against their people.”

Pew Research Center did a study to gauge the American sentiment about the United States’ diplomatic relationship with Cuba. It found that Americans overwhelmingly approve attempts to repair the relationship with the island country rather than isolating it.

There hasn’t been any recent implication that Trump will reenact the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ law, which gave Cuban nationals legal residency if they reached U.S. soil.


READ: Cuban Refugees Will No Longer Benefit From ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’

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Trump Cited Human Rights For His Cuba Policy Reversal And Cuba Pointed Out The Millions Of Americans Losing Health Care

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Trump Cited Human Rights For His Cuba Policy Reversal And Cuba Pointed Out The Millions Of Americans Losing Health Care

Presidencia de la República Mexicana / Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On June 16, 2017, President Trump gave an address in Miami calling for a reversal of the Obama-era Cuban policy that opened up diplomatic ties, travel, and business with the Caribbean country. According to CNN, the Trump administration is planning on reversing travel and business aspects of Obama’s Cuba policy but will not be cutting diplomatic ties. Embassies in Havana and Washington will remain open. Despite Trump promising, in the same speech, that the changes in our policy with Cuba would be happening immediately, it is likely to take months before any of the measures proposed are implemented. USA Today reports that the changes proposed by Trump could take months, maybe years, before they are finalized. As for his reasoning for the change in the policy, Trump cited concerns over Cuba’s record on human rights and his perceived notion that Cuba is not willing to comply with the U.S. Trump also said that he didn’t want any more U.S. dollars going to fund the Cuban military.

“To the Cuban government, I say, put an end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic freedoms, return the fugitives from American justice, including the return of the cop killer Joanne Chesimard,” Trump said in his speech, according to The New York Times.

Cuba quickly responded to Trump’s speech. Not only did the Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez call the speech a “grotesque spectacle” during a visit in Vienna, Austria, but the Cuban government released their own statement questioning the legitimacy of the renewed restrictions. They say that enforcing the embargo will only serve to further impact Cubans and the Cuban economy, which Trump claims he wants to see grow under a democratic ruling during his speech. As for the human rights concern, well, the Cuban government had some choice words for the President of the United States about that.

“The United States are not in the position to teach us lessons. We have serious concerns about the respect for and guarantees of human rights in that country, where there are numerous cases of murders, brutality, and abuses by the police, particularly against the African-American population; the right to life is violated as a result of the deaths caused by fire arms; child labor is exploited and there are serious manifestations of racial discrimination; there is a threat to impose more restrictions on medical services, which will leave 23 million persons without health insurance; there is unequal pay between men and women; migrants and refugees, particularly those who come from Islamic countries, are marginalized; there is an attempt to put up walls that discriminate against and denigrate neighbor countries; and international commitments to preserve the environment and address climate change are abandoned,” reads the statement from the Cuban government. “Also a source of concern are the human rights violations by the United States in other countries, such as the arbitrary detention of tens of prisoners in the territory illegally occupied by the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo, Cuba, where even torture has been applied; extrajudicial executions and the death of civilians caused by drones; as well as the wars unleashed against countries like Iraq, under false pretenses like the possession of weapons of mass destruction, with disastrous consequences for the peace, security and stability in the Middle East.”

There are two important points to make about the future of Cuba-U.S. relations. First, Trump is not going to be restoring “wet foot, dry foot,” which was a policy that allowed for Cuban refugees to be granted legal permanent residency. President Obama drew a lot of ire from Cuban-Americans when he eliminated the program January 12, 2017, just before leaving office. The second point worth noting is that Americans will no longer be able to travel to the U.S. individually anymore. Any person traveling to Cuba for non-academic educational purposes will have to travel in a group.

You can read the full statement from the Cuban government here. You can read the White House’s full statement here.

You can watch Trump’s full Cuba speech below.


READ: Trump Is Expected To Change The U.S. Policy On Cuba After A Review Led By Cuban-American Politicians

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