Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Cuba denounces Trump policy changes but is open to dialogue

Nellie Chapman | 23 June, 2017, 05:13

In contentious deliberations leading up to the new policy, some aides argued that Trump, a former real estate magnate who won the presidency vowing to unleash us business, would have a hard time defending any moves that close off the Cuban market. The amount of American visitors to Cuba tripled after Obama's lightening of restrictions.

While anti-Castro conservatives hailed Trump's partial roll-back of President Barack Obama's detente, a number of other GOP lawmakers, particularly from farm states, criticized the change as misguided and isolationist.

In a statement Friday, Moran says "putting America first means exporting what we produce to countries across the globe".

U.S. President Donald Trump signs a document after announcing his Cuba policy at the Manuel Artime Theater in the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida, U.S. June 16, 2017. Diplomatic relations, restored only two years ago, will remain intact. However, in a shift from Obama's approach, Trump said trade and other penalties would stay in place until a long list of prerequisites was met.

Moscow said Trump's policy changes showed that "anti-Cuban discourse is still widely in demand". "Officially, today, they are rejected".

Aug 2016: U.S. commercial flight arrives in Cuba for the first time in more than half a century.

Cuba later denounced the move as a setback in U.S.

"Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve it through pressures and impositions, or by using more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure", an official statement released by the Cuban government said Saturday.

The Cuban government rebuked those statements in a lengthy response Friday, writing that Trump's executive order betrays a double standard on human rights.

Cuba's government slammed President Donald Trump for his "hostile rhetoric" during a speech Friday that it said took "a backward step in the relationship between the two countries". United States airlines and cruise ships are to still be allowed to serve the island 145km south of Florida.

Members of Cuba's small but vibrant independent civil society say they fear the new policy will do more harm than good.

"Today is a major setback for global relations, NAFSA, our allies and the Cuban and American people".

One of the biggest changes will focus on so-called "people-to-people" exchanges that, under Obama's policy, allowed Americans to take cultural and educational trips to Cuba. And the US government will police other trips to ensure travelers are pursuing a "full-time schedule of educational exchange activities".

Once implemented Trump's policy is expected to curtail USA travel by creating a maze of rules for Americans to obey.

Analysts estimate that the president's maneuver would bring economic, isolation and security problems for the United States instead of benefits since Cuba will not compromise and national affairs are not negotiated.

"We do not want USA dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba", Trump said, pledging that USA sanctions would not be lifted until Cuba frees political prisoners and holds free elections.

Trump's policy on Cuba, which was announced Friday, reaffirms the existing embargo on Cuba and opposes global calls for its termination.

But the overwhelming majority of the Cuban economy is controlled by the government.

Ramon Saul Sanchez, leader of the anti-embargo Movimiento Democracia, told AFP that the changes do not fully reverse Obama's open-hand policy as Trump had suggested. "We know what's going on and we remember what happened". Less than a year later, the U.S. Embassy in Havana re-opened, and Obama paid a historic visit to Havana in 2016.

But the new measures are likely to have dampening effect on U.S. nationals traveling to Cuba.

Weissenstein reported from Havana and Lederman from Washington.