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President Donald Trump will sign a partial rollback of Obama-era policies with Cuba at an event in Miami Friday afternoon.
Senior officials at the White House said they hope to “empower the Cuban people” through the new policies. Some of the rollback's restrictions and regulations will include:
- Restrictions on individual people-to-people travel and stricter enforcement of current American travel guidelines
- Regulations on business transactions that benefit the Cuban military
- Restrictions on individual American spending on state-run establishments, such as restaurants and hotels
The ban on financial exchanges between Americans and the Cuban military includes purchases from the military's holding company, Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA). GAESA controls about 60 percent of the Cuban economy, including some of the priciest hotels, rental car companies, and shops in the country.
Immediate impact for American travelers will be the stricter enforcement of tourism restrictions. But some of the regulations announced in Miami may not be rolled out for months.
Here's some of what Trump left out the reversal:
- The “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” immigration policy
- American flights and cruise ships into Cuba
- The American embassy in Cuba, which will stay open
- Remittances to Cuba
Senior White House officials said they worked with a bipartisan group of members of Congress to shape the new policy, noting that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took the lead. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) also assisted.
Anti-embargo and human rights advocates weren't impressed with the new policies.
“The majority of Americans — even Republicans and Cuban-Americans — agree that engagement with Cuba was the right course of direction,“ Geoff Thale, the Washington Office on Latin America’s director of programs, said Thursday. ”Reversing this policy is a strong victory for a small handful of vocal members of Congress, but a great defeat for everyone else."
“This policy was clearly written by people who have never been to Cuba, at least not in this century,” Engage Cuba President James Williams said in a statement preempting the announcement. “Because if they had, they'd know that the only thing that restricting travel will do is devastate Cubans working in the private sector who have relied on American visitors to provide for their families.”
President Trump is expected to sign the new plan at 1:10 p.m. this Friday at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami.