On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to announce some changes to the Cuba travel and trade policies that the Obama administration introduced. While the new rules are aimed at empowering the Cuban people instead of Castro’s regime, the move has received criticisms.
Travel to Cuba to be restricted
President Trump plans to impose a strict implementation of travel rules, in which trips to Cuba should fall under 12 legal categories, including family visits and educational, humanitarian and professional activities, Bloomberg reported. The new regulations would prohibit the so-called people-to-people travel. Those who wish to travel to the island should book trips through the groups that are sanctioned by Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
In addition, the rules would prohibit financial transactions between U.S. companies and Cuban businesses that are affiliated with the island’s military groups and intelligence services. Banking transactions and fees are exempted, and Americans would still be allowed to rent private properties in Cuba. Port and airport fees are also exempted, which means that commercial airlines and cruise lines will still be able to bring tourists to the island.
Crackdown on Cuba is short-sighted
Hot Air wrote that the Trump administration is being short-sighted in its decision to reverse what the Obama administration did to improve its relations with Cuba. It argued that the policies should be expanded instead so that more people would be able to visit Cuba, and Cubans could enjoy the expanded relations for much longer. Furthermore, isolation would not end Castro’s regime.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 16, 2017
While Trump wants to divert money from supporting the Cuban government, many everyday citizens of the country are experiencing the benefits of the expanded relations with the United States. Some of them earn from renting out their properties to tourists while others become tourist guides.
James Williams, the president of the advocacy group, Engage Cuba, told Bloomberg that the people behind this policy might have never been to Cuba.
“Because if they had, they’d know that the only thing that restricting travel will do is devastate Cubans working in the private sector who have relied on American visitors to provide for their families.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 16, 2017
Meanwhile, reports say that no changes will take effect immediately. Trump has ordered his administration to draft the new regulations within the next 30 days, but there was no timeline set for their implementation.
[Featured image by Pablo Martinez Monsivai/AP Images]