The United States announced regulation changes on Wednesday to its travel policy regarding Cuba, U.S. administration officials told reporters, in an effort to implement President Donald Trump’s policy of holding the communist regime accountable for its human rights violations.
The Trump administration reforms, scheduled to take effect Thursday, have limited travel and business ties to Cuba, prohibiting Americans from doing business with the tyrannical communist regime and eliminating the individual “people-to-people” trips that have allowed U.S. citizens to visit Cuba for alleged educational purposes alone as opposed to with a tour group.
“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement Wednesday.
In a press release announcing the regulation changes, the U.S. Treasury Department stressed:
The State Department is taking complementary steps to implement these policy changes that cumulatively seek to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services, while maintaining opportunities for Americans to engage in authorized travel to Cuba and support the private, small business sector in Cuba.
President Trump’s reforms are geared towards encouraging economic and political activity that promotes exchanging the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s progressive tyranny, which remains alive and well today, for a free and democratic system.
While relations between the United States and Cuba allegedly thawed under former President Barack Obama, critics argue that the previous administration ignored the oppression and human rights abuses under the communist regime.
The Trump administration’s Cuba policy is expected to unravel some of the Obama policies towards the dictatorial government, fulfilling a campaign promise to anti-Castro Cuban-Americans, considered to be an influential Republican voting bloc.
However, the core of Obama’s policies will remain in place, including the controversial move by the leader of the open-borders Democratic party to terminate the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” refugee policy that long allowed Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay and become voting citizens who largely favor the Republican party.
Opponents of Trump’s efforts argue that the president could reverse American business investments intended to boost and cultivate Cuba’s nascent private sector.
However, Trump administration officials involved in carrying out the president’s Cuba strategy told reporters on condition of anonymity Wednesday that the changes are not retroactive and will not affect existing business agreements, which involve Democrats and Republicans alike.
According to the Treasury Department, the reforms are scheduled to take effect Thursday.
“The actions today show that we stand with the people of Cuba and I want to reiterate that improvements to the United States-Cuba relationship will depend entirely on the Cuban government’s willingness to improve the lives of the Cuban people, including promoting the rule of law, respecting human rights, and taking concrete and specific steps to foster political and economic freedom,” explained one of the officials.
They noted that the changes are primarily intended to implement President Donald Trump’s goals of holding the Communist regime liable for human rights violations and advancing America’s foreign policy through compliance with existing U.S. law — the embargo against Cuba and tourism travel ban.
“We will hold the Cuban regime accountable for oppression and human rights abuses ignored under the previous administration’s policy,” said the Trump official, echoing the goals of the president’s Cuba policy announced in June. “We will further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and those of the Cuban people and we will lay the groundwork for empowering the Cuban people to develop greater economic and political interests.”