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Trump to announce plan to stop cash flow to Cuban military

16 June 2017

Stopping short of a complete turnabout, President Donald Trump is expected Friday to announce a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of US cash to the country's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations and allowing USA airlines and cruise ships to continue service to the island.

Cuban Americans at the Tabanero Cigar company in Ybor City are anxiously waiting to learn what changes President Donald Trump will make to the island nation.

Former president Barack Obama implemented his Cuba normalization measures through executive actions that bypassed Congress, giving Trump the power to undo much of it with the stroke of a pen.

Getting to stroll through the colorful streets of Havana may soon be much harder for Americans. That means that any US traveler now booked on a flight to Cuba in the next few weeks, or even months, could go ahead and make the trip.

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Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Norm Singleton, president of Campaign for Liberty, among other prominent free market advocates wrote in a Wednesday letter that, "reversing the recent improvements in America-Cuba trade and travel would put thousands of U.S.jobs at risk". That company, which owns hotels, restaurants, stores and money exchanges in Cuba, is believed to control over half the economy.

Senior White House officials who briefed reporters Thursday on the coming announcement said Obama's overtures had enriched Cuba's military while repression increased on the island.

But Trump's planned rollback of Obama's policy has drawn opposition from American businesses and the travel industry, which have begun making inroads on the island, as well as many lawmakers, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans.

Rubio's embrace of Trump on Cuba is a slight break for the Florida senator, who has been a harsh critic of Trump's views policy toward hotbed areas like Asia, the Middle East and Russian Federation, and has faulted Trump's comments about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

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"While the news comes as a step back for travel to Cuba, it is business as usual for Intrepid Travel", said Leigh Barnes, director of Intrepid Group North America.

The memo outlining the new policy does not say whether Trump will close any embassies or break off diplomatic relations, which were restored by the Obama administration in 2015.

The alleged justification for the new policy is that it will pressure the Cuban dictatorship to give concessions on human rights and political liberalization. But none of the changes will become effective until the Treasury Department issues new regulations, which could take months. That seems odd given that the Trump administration is not particularly fond of pursuing that agenda in its foreign policy: there was no mention of human rights and political freedom during his visit to Saudi Arabia, for example. Although Trump lost the Miami area to Hillary Clinton by double digits, he credits support from Cuban-Americans for helping him eke out a narrow victory statewide. Marco Rubio, Republican Florida. "Likewise, Americans should be allowed to travel to other nations and serve as diplomats who can spread our soft power overseas".

"We will cancel Obama's one-sided Cuban deal", Trump said days before the election in Miami, "if we do not get the deal we want, and the deal that people living in Cuba and here deserve".

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Trump to announce plan to stop cash flow to Cuban military