President Trump to bring back harsher restrictions on travel to Cuba

On Friday, according to reports by Politico and the Miami Herald, President Donald Trump will announce during a speech in Miami that he will reinstate harsher travel restrictions on U.S. citizens looking to travel to Cuba.

Politico and the Herald both obtained copies of the eight-page directive President Trump will announce Friday at Miami’s Manuel Artime Theater, and both sources report that the President is framing his decision as making true on a campaign promise he made while running for office.

According to the Miami Herald, back in September, while at a campaign event in Miami, Trump told a crowd — which the Herald reports was heavily populated with Cuban exiles — that former President Barrack Obama’s decision to ease trade and travel restrictions on Cuba hadn’t benefitted the Cuban people and was misguided.

“All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them — and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” the Herald reported Trump as saying. “Not my demands. Our demands.”

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Getting to stroll through the colorful streets of Havana may soon be much harder for Americans. Photo: Courtesy of Pedro Szekely/Flickr

While tourism to Cuba is still technically banned by federal law, the Obama administration had made concessions to allow U.S. citizens to travel to the island nation and spend money if their purpose for traveling fell under one of 12 accepted reasons. The dozen accepted reasons for travel included reasons such as “educational activities” or “support for the Cuban people” and — as Politico reports — there was little to no enforcement of making sure U.S. travelers actually held true to their stated reasons for travel.

But now, if U.S. citizens want to travel for any of those exempt reasons, according to the Herald they will have to provide detailed records and plans showing what they will be doing while in Cuba and keep extensive records of all financial transactions within Cuba for five years to make available for the Treasury Department if requested.

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Under Trump’s new travel restrictions, commerce with businesses run by the military branch of the Cuban army will be strictly forbidden. Photo: Courtesy of Pedro Szekely/Flickr

And, President Trump’s upcoming directive will also completely ban transactions with companies that are controlled by the Cuban military. An expert on Cuban travel told Politico that roughly 60 percent of all businesses in Cuba and 80 percent of all hotels on the island are run by the business arm of the country’s military, meaning that even if you can find an exemption for traveling to Cuba, you might not be able to find anywhere to stay.

“The oppressors of the Cuban people are the Cuban government who have increased repression on the island against dissidents … since reestablishing diplomatic relations,” Politico reports the President Trump’s draft as saying. “Prior to that, it was not clear to some if the Obama policy toward Cuba would work; today it is clear that the Obama policy toward Cuba does not.”

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