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Trump's Cuba Policy Not That Drastic – Unless You Hoped To Be 'Un Turista Yanqui'

Then presidential candidate Donald Trump in Miami last fall speaking to Bay of Pigs veterans.
Al Diaz
Miami Herald
Then presidential candidate Donald Trump in Miami last fall speaking to Bay of Pigs veterans.

President Trump will be in Miami Friday to unveil his new Cuba policy, which will reverse some of his predecessor’s normalization measures. The main targets are Cuba’s military – and wannabe American tourists.

Trump’s revised Cuba rules aren't all that drastic. But if you’ve been going to Cuba recently to drink rum, smoke cigars and take selfies with vintage Chevrolets – sorry, looks like the fiesta’s over.

Senior White House officials say Trump’s new directives eliminate individual people-to-people visits to Cuba by Americans. The reason: those were the visits most ripe for abuse by yanquis hoping to circumvent the law that prohibits U.S. tourist travel to Cuba. U.S. travelers now will have to go in authorized groups or with special visas. And they may be told they can’t stay in state-run Cuban hotels - at least those run by the military, which controls most of Cuba’s tourism industry.

That brings us to the second facet of Trump’s rollback of former President Obama’s engagement with communist Cuba. U.S. firms may no longer do deals with Cuban businesses controlled by the military or security services, considered repressive institutions. (White House officials said existing contracts and licenses - like the hotel management venture the U.S. firm Starwood recently inked in Cuba - will not be disrupted.)

But that apparently won’t include the fees U.S. airlines and cruise ships have to pay Cuba. Nor will Cuban-Americans' ability to make unlimited family visits and remittances to Cuba be affected. Either way, Trump hopes his measures will prod Cuba to improve human rights – and redirect more U.S. money to private Cuban businesses.

Trump is scheduled announce the new Cuba policies at 1 p.m at the Manuel Artime Theater in Little Havana. The U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments will provide more specific regulations over the next few months.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.
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