While speaking at a Miami theatre on Friday, President Trump announced that he is pulling out of his predecessor’s “one-sided deal” with the Communist nation of Cuba.
Although cancelling the deal, the President said he is willing to renegotiate with the Cuba government.
“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump told a cheering crowd.
Trump made this announcement Friday, fulfilling a campaign promise to turn back former President Barack Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Cuba.
“I keep my promises,” Trump said. “And now that I am your President, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime.”
The foundation of the new policy is to guarantee Americans traveling to Cuba only support private businesses and services, banning financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA.
If Americans want to travel to Cuba, they will be required to travel as part of organized tour groups run by U.S. companies. This requirement was eliminated by Obama’s deal with Cuba, allowing tens of thousands of Americans to book solo trips and spend their money with individual bed-and-breakfast owners, restaurants, and taxi drivers. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities designed to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans.
During his speech, President Trump drew attention to the crimes of the Castro government, saying his administration would not “hide from it.” He accused the regime of harboring “cop killers, hijackers, and terrorists” while explaining the policy changes are meant to encourage a free Cuba.
“With God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” Trump said.
Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American lawmaker, helped draft the new policy. Speaking before the President in Miami on Friday, Rubio took a shot at Trump’s predecessor for his visit to Cuba last March.
“A year and a half ago … an American president landed in Havana to outstretch his hand to a regime. Today, a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba,” Rubio said.
U.S. airlines and cruise ships will still be allowed to continue service to the island.
The U.S. Embassy in Havana, which reopened in August 2015, will remain as a diplomatic outpost. Trump also isn’t overturning Obama’s decision to end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed most Cuban migrants who made it onto U.S. soil to stay and eventually become legal permanent residents.
Trump affirmed in his speech that the U.S. embassy would remain open, hoping the two countries can find common ground. But he said his administration would enforce the ban on tourism and the embargo, and would not lift sanctions until the regime releases all political prisoners and schedules free and internationally supervised elections.
Trump also demanded the return of Joanne Chesimard, a New York City native wanted in the 1973 killing of a New Jersey state trooper.
Reactions among Republicans and Democrats are split. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement the Trump administration “is right to sideline the Cuban military and make human rights and internet access top priorities moving forward.”
Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes tweeted that Cubans “will be hurt by a mean spirited policy” meant to keep a “political promise to a few people at their expense.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said the actions “threaten to slam that door shut and revert to a failed policy of isolation that has done nothing to improve the lives of the Cuban people and has harmed the American economy.”