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Pres. Trump terminates the normalization with Cuba

Posted May. 31, 2017 07:07,   

Updated May. 31, 2017 07:15


It appears that the thaw between the U.S. and Cuba during the Obama administration is freezing again as U.S. President Donald Trump sets to roll back Obama’s Cuba policies for the normalization of the relationship. Trump has threatened to terminate U.S.-Cuba détente since last year’s presidential campaign unless the country makes movement in the right direction on human rights and sweeping economic reform.

The Internet-based political magazine the Daily Caller and Reuters reported on Monday that the Trump administration is crafting tightened rules on trade and travel that Obama eased. They said that Trump would announce policy changes in a June speech in Miami at earliest. Some observed that the White House considered making a Cuba announcement on May 20 to mark the 115th anniversary of Cuba’s independence but such plan was delayed as it coincided with Trump’s overseas trip.

The Trump administration began to review Obama’s Cuba policies since this Feb. John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council said, “The Trump administration has been ready since February 2017 to announce changes (suspension of that policy), but issues unrelated to Cuba have intervened.” He added that the administration will enact “increased enforcement relating to travel” and “a focus upon discouraging transactions with entities controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba.” It appears that Trump will not cut the re-established relations by establishing an embassy in Cuba according to the normalization of ties with Havana in 2015.

It seems that the development is due to the behind-the-scenes efforts of influential GOP lawmakers. In particular, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida) and Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (Florida) have been openly emphasized to be tough on Cuba. Sen. Rubio, who was a candidate for presidential primaries last year and called as the new rising star, tweeted in March that he is “quite confident” Trump will “treat Cuba like a dictatorship.”

Criticism and concerns are raised as the Trump administration is breaking the mood of reconciliation with Cuba. The enhanced relations with the former Cold War foe could bring a positive impact on the U.S. economy, not to mention the security. The U.S. telecommunications and airline industry have considered the country as their future market with a high potential for a long time. Some argued that Trump’s upcoming Cuba policy doesn’t make sense as he promised to support American corporations and prioritize job creation. A group of 54 senators reintroduced legislation to repeal all remaining restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Se-Hyung Lee turtle@donga.com