At an off-camera briefing on Thursday afternoon, Senior White House Officials highlighted President Trump’s policy towards Cuba.
In an effort to maintain the campaign promise of reversing the Obama Administration’s Cuba policy, the White House announced it will take a harder line towards the Cuban government.
President Trump’s new measures are designed specifically to restrict money to the Cuban military and intelligence services. To achieve this, the Department’s of the Treasury and Commerce are directed to limit transactions with these two Cuban entities. With certain exceptions such as air and sea transportation, US citizens and firms will only be allowed to conduct business directly with Cuban people.
Implementation of this order will likely have a substantial impact on the Cuban government, whose military controls significant portions of the country’s economy.
Additionally, President Trump’s Policy toward Cuba will end individual people to people travel to Cuba. This restriction is to ensure that the statutory ban on tourism to the island is maintained. US citizens can still partake in people to people travel to the island as part of a group with a full itinerary.
Under the new plan, the 12 official methods of travel to the island will not be altered. There will also be no changes to the current Wet Feet-Dry Feet policy. Any business or travel plans that are already in effect or scheduled will be allowed to proceed until otherwise noted by future regulations.
The overarching aim of this new approach is to “empower the Cuban people.” The President wants a relationship with the island that centers on encouraging Cubans through economic interaction.
According to Senior White House Officials, it is now in the hands of Cuba’s Raul Castro to act on his rhetoric and decide if he wants to engage economically with the US. These Officials claim the new Cuba Policy makes it clear to the Cuban regime that there are very specific benchmarks they need to meet in order to maintain relations.
Moving forward, the White House announced it will create a series of reforms designed to make it very difficult for Raul Castro’s successor to maintain the high oppressive regime in Cuba. Similar to past administrations, the Trump Administration believes its initiatives can lead to free elections, direct pay for Cuban workers, freedom for political prisoners, among others results.
The measures will officially be announced tomorrow and take 30 days to initiate the regulatory process. These policy changes will take effect once new regulations are issued.
In constructing this new approach, President Trump engaged with several Departments (Treasury, State, Commerce, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Transportation), members of Congress who are experts on Cuba relations, and other parties on both sides of the political spectrum. Senator Marco Rubio played an important role in this process.
President Trump will describe his Cuba policy in greater detail on Friday afternoon at the Manuel Artime Theatre in Miami, Florida.