President Trump restores restrictions on travel, business with Cuba

MIAMI (KUSI) — President Donald Trump traveled to Miami Friday to announce he was restoring some travel and economic restrictions on Cuba that were eased during the Obama administration.

President Trump called President Barack Obama’s 2014 historic repairing of diplomatic ties between the two countries a “one-sided deal with Cuba.”

President Trump charged his own course for more confrontational relations with Cuba with a speech in Miami. Trump said the previous administration ignored Cuba’s human-rights abuses and that the relationship was not benefiting the United States. The move attempts to put pressure on the Castro-led Cuban government.

"To the Cuban government, I say, put an end to the abuse of dissidents,” Trump said. “When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be ready, willing, and able to come to the table to negotiate a much better deal for Cubans, for America — a much better deal and a deal that’s fair and a deal that makes sense."

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is of Cuban heritage, strongly opposed Obama’s engagement with Cuba and was supported Trump in his speech Friday.

"In less than a year and half ago, an American president landed in Havana, greeted by a regime," Rubio said. "A year and a half ago, a president, 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."

Trump did not announce a full reversal of the reconciliation with Cuba, but travel and economic engagement between the two countries would be restricted again.

Trips by Americans to Cuba will be prohibited and representatives will need to approve travel, ensuring that they are for educational purposes. A trade embargo, which only Congress can lift, remains in place. Embassies in Washington and Havana will remain open. 

When President Obama eased restrictions on Cuba in 2014, he said it was important to find a new approach because the policy that had previously been used for decades failed to democratize the island.

Diplomatic relations with the country were severed in 1961 after communist Fidel Castro took over the government of Cuba. The United States has been attempting to overthrow Castro since.

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