Russia urges President Trump to discard 'Cold War' policy on Cuba

Alejandro Massey
June 20, 2017

A quote commonly attributed (rightly or wrongly) to Albert Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

As a part of the deal forged with Cuban President Raul Castro, Obama eased economic and trade restrictions that dated back to the USA embargo on Cuba that began in the 1960s.

A corresponding sentiment is attributed to one of Trump's predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt: "Americans learn only from catastrophe and not from experience".

That image helped draw more than 600,000 U.S. tourists past year, after former President Barack Obama loosened individual travel restrictions. He predicts, though, that Trump's approach won't last.

"Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba", Trump declared as he made a full-throated assault on the government of Cuban President Raul Castro.

If Trump decides to keep up the Obama-era policies towards Cuba, he could face some significant backlash from Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Sen. This is likely to affect pending hotel projects with Cuban companies that have ties to the military.

However, it will tighten restrictions on Americans travelling to the Caribbean island, hurting the booming Cuban tourism industry and clamp down on US business dealings with Cuba's military.

President Donald Trump visited Miami Friday, where he announced a tightening of the rules on trade and travel enacted under former President Barack Obama.

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"This policy was clearly written by people who have never been to Cuba, at least not in this century", James Williams, head of Engage Cuba, a group that lobbies for closer Cuba ties, said in a statement.

But in Cuba, cutting out the armed forces means undermining the tourism sector, which is largely controlled by GAESA but also supports many small, private businesses.

"The previous administration was right to reject a policy that hurt ordinary Cubans and did nothing to advance human rights", Daniel Wilkinson, managing director for the Americas at the organization, said in a statement.

It is also wrong for some to criticize Trump's rollback as an opportunity for China and Russian Federation to increase influence in Cuba. No. He unveiled the new policy during a speech in Miami, where the fervently anti-Castro expatriate community helped deliver an electoral victory to Trump in the crucial battleground state. Poor relations with Western hemispheric allies will make addressing regional challenges that much more hard for the United States. Saudi Arabia, while a key USA ally in the Middle East, is a well-known violator of human rights. The new legislation focuses on other activities of concern with respect to U.S. national security and foreign policy, including Iran's ballistic weapons development activity, support for worldwide terrorism, and human rights abuses. "Return the fugitives from American justice - including the return of the cop-killer Joanne Chesimard", he added, in reference to the Black Liberation Army activist who was granted asylum in Cuba in 1984 and remains on the FBI's "most wanted terrorists" list.

Trump's speech at the Manuel Artime Theater, named for a Cuban exile who worked closely with the Central Intelligence Agency in anti-Castro plots including the Bay of Pigs invasion, was an event deliberately calculated to appeal to the extremely right-wing layer of Cuban-American exiles. "We all know that Raúl Castro and the leadership in Cuba will be fine".

Forcing would-be visitors into organized trips, issuing lists of which establishments they could not visit and auditing those tours would go some way to solving that issue.

"Access Trips' tours will operate as planned, with our eight-day immersive culinary tours as well as our five-day weekend trips to Havana both created to help our guests explore Cuban culture through its cuisine".

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