Trump's speech in Miami is bad news for your Friday commute

Posted June 16, 2017

Cuban-Americans are eager and anxious for President Donald Trump's announcement in Miami Friday of changes to the USA policy toward Cuba, though it appears the changes will be more like a tweak of the Obama-era provisions.

MARIEL, Cuba (AP) - Church bells rang out and Cubans strung American flags from their windows when President Barack Obama announced in December 2014 that the US would stop trying to push Cuba toward collapse.

According to reports by one USA official who had seen the president's memorandum on the issue, the rollback will include a tightening of travel restricitons on US citizens travelling to the island and a restriction on USA business dealings with companies tied to Cuba's military.

Trump is set to travel tomorrow to Miami, where a source close to the deliberations says he will announce a prohibition on "financial transactions" with military-backed tourism conglomerate GAESA.

Former President Barack Obama may have begun normalizing relations with Cuba, but President Donald Trump will be re-tightening regulations regarding travel. And they will saddle the US government with the complicated task of policing U.S.travel to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy. And a blanket ban on US transactions with Cuba's military conglomerate would just create opportunities for European, Asian and Latin American investors to fill the gap, depriving the USA of influence and commercial opportunities.

Last year more than 600,000 Americans traveled to Cuba, about 74 percent more than the year before. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities created to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans.

Embassies will remain open and money sent by Cubans will be unaffected.

While no one expects Trump to sever recently restored diplomatic ties between the former Cold War foes, or re-close the US embassy in Havana, his administration has been discussing policy changes that include barring business transactions with companies associated with the Cuban military. It also won't change the status of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.

Trump's decision to roll back some of Obama's Cuba changes has split Republicans with many pro-business, open-trade advocates in the GOP urging him not to reverse the policies. The rules will take effect when the Treasury Department has the regulations ready.

Gary Prevost, a professor emeritus at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, talked about what that would mean for Cuba and for the U.S.

Trump will argue it's the way to get Cuba to improve human rights, something the regime didn't make much of an effort to do when Obama was President.

The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 and placed an official embargo against the country in 1962. It spent subsequent decades trying to either overthrow the Cuban government or isolate the island, including toughening an economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Critics of the current policy also tend to downplay the risks of changing it.

The main supporters of an extensive reversal have been Cuban Americans in Congress, led by Sen.

The son of a Cuban immigrant, Rubio opposed Obama's re-engagement with Cuba, saying Obama was making concessions to an "odious regime". Those heading to the airport Friday can also expect slowdowns on State Road 836, the Dolphins Expressway, as Trump arrives and departs from MIA, as well as possible delayed flights to accommodate Air Force One.

If that policy is reversed, the USA entrepreneurial community may lose a lot, above all in terms of commerce, he said in an interview with Prensa Latina.

A return to the past could characterize Trump's announcement that fulfills a promise he made in his election campaign a year ago. He said he would "stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression", and went on to win about half the Cuban vote in Florida in the presidential election.