BY THE WHITE HOUSE- OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY (JUNE 16, 2017)
In a speech in Miami on June 16, President Trump announced changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba, calling for tougher restrictions on travel and business in an effort to help bring down the Castro regime. Speaking to members of the Cuban-American community, President Trump stated, "Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba." The policy changes would restrict U.S. travel to Cuba and curtail American business dealings on the island to prevent proceeds from benefiting the Cuban military, government, and intelligence services. President Trump also called for Cuba's cooperation in handing over fugitives wanted in the United States.
National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba
BY THE WHITE HOUSE- OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY (JUNE 16, 2017)
In a National Security Presidential Memorandum released on June 16, the Trump Administration outlined the key points of the new U.S. policy toward Cuba, including ending economic practices that benefit the Cuban government, military, and intelligence agencies; continued support for the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba; and maintaining the ban on the "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy. The regulatory changes will not affect the continued operations of the American embassy in Cuba or the issuance of authorized remittances.
BY THE WHITE HOUSE- BLOG (JUNE 16, 2017)
The White House fact sheet outlines the four objectives of President Trump's policy toward Cuba. The Trump Administration emphasizes that any further improvements in the United States-Cuba relationship will be dependent on the Cuban government's "willingness to improve the lives of the Cuban people, including through promoting the rule of law, respecting human rights, and taking concrete steps to foster political and economic freedoms."
BY THE WHITE HOUSE- OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY (JUNE 15, 2017)
Senior administration officials discuss details of President Trump's Cuba policy in the White House press briefing room the day before the scheduled announcement in the Cuban-American community of Little Havana. Speaking on Trump's campaign promise to reverse the Obama-era policies toward Cuba that have "enriched the Cuban military regime and increased the repression on the island," senior officials say the policy readjustment keeps good on that promise, both for the U.S. and for the Cuban people. The background briefing addresses the nuances of the policy, its overall objectives, and the administration's goals for future relations.
BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY - OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL (OFAC) (JUNE 16, 2017)
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has posted new frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address President Trump's June 16 announcement of changes to the United States policy toward Cuba. The policy channels commercial activities away from the Cuban military and related entities; tightens travel restrictions on U.S. tourism to Cuba; and reaffirms the U.S. statutory embargo of Cuba. The policy memorandum directs the Treasury and Commerce Departments to begin the process of issuing new regulations within 30 days. The announced changes will not take effect until those departments have finalized their new regulations, a process that may take several months.
By William LeoGrande (The Huffington Post, June 20, 2017)
In his article, Professor William M. LeoGrande writes that President Trump's changes to the U.S.- Cuba policy could deprive over a million Cuban families of access to remittances from their relatives abroad, "a declaration of economic war on the very people that Trump claims his policy will empower." Section 3(d) of the National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) redefines "prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba" expansively, potentially including almost a quarter of Cuba's entire labor force. The significance, as LeoGrande writes, is "Cubans who are 'prohibited' are not allowed to receive payments from U.S. persons, and that includes remittances." Although Sec. 3.(a)(iii)(g) of the NSPM seems to protect remittances, it conflicts with the existing ban on payments to prohibited officials, a potentially massive cut to the approximately $3billion in remittances that are sent to the island annually.
By Marc Caputo (Politico, June 15, 2017)
Politico contributor Marc Caputo discusses the designing of President Trump's Cuba policy and the unmistakable influence of the man behind it, Senator Marco Rubio. As Caputo writes, worried about bureaucratic pushback to preserve President Obama's normalization of U.S. - Cuba relations, the Florida senator went directly to the president with a plan in May. "What you've committed to do on Cuba, what you want to do on Cuba...is going to have to come from the top down," Rubio reportedly told the President during their first meeting, a piece of advice that would rapidly set the motion for the June 16 announcement of the new crackdown on Cuba. Caputo provides an in-depth analysis of the inner workings of President Trump's circle, the political stakes at play, and the dynamics, both domestic and international, in the balance.
By Nick Miroff (The Washington Post, June 17, 2017)
Determining "good" U.S. tourism will be increasingly difficult under new the travel regulations imposed by President Trump's Cuba policy, writes columnist Nick Miroff for the Washington Post. According to Trump, the restrictions on independent travelers will help deprive the Cuban government of dollars and redirect funds to the "island's growing class of entrepreneurs." However, as Miroff points out, in Cuba's state-controlled economy, where government and private industry are so closely interlinked, teasing out the intricacies of individual people-to-people interactions will prove to be a daunting challenge. Critics also argue that this policy change will "hurt Cuba's emerging private sector that caters to American visitors." Such a move, they say, will only redirect Americans, "back toward the kind of prepackaged, predictable group tourism that the Cuban government actually prefers - and earns more revenue from."
Recommendations for the Trump Administration
By Philip Peters (The American Conservative, January 26, 2017)
This article argues for the expansion of former President Obama's efforts to foster agreements with Cuba and establish regular communication with Castro's government. If Trump decides to return to the policies enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush, he risks harming both U.S. and Cuban businesses; closing diplomatic channels that could help the U.S. extend its influence in human rights and economic matters; and halting joint scientific research that could produce new treatments for diseases. The article suggests building on President Obama's policies by expanding intelligence communication, restructuring exportation agreements, and updating migration policies with Cuba.
Is the U.S. Opening to Cuba Dead in the Water? Obama's Historic Normalization with Havana is Under Threat from Trump's Hardline Cabal of Castro-haters
By Christopher Sabatini (Foreign Policy, January 9, 2017)
This article discusses the growing concern that President-elect Trump's administration will reverse all progress made on relations with Cuba by President Obama. Repealing Obama's policies would risk limiting scientific collaboration between the U.S. and Cuba on fighting infectious diseases, pass up the opportunity to collaborate with Cuban intelligence, and weaken communication between the citizens of the two nations. The author suggests maintaining the core of the reforms, such as the normalization of relations and intelligence cooperation, while reconsidering certain travel and importation policies.
By William LeoGrande (The National Interest, January 9, 2017)
This article analyzes the potential benefits of cooperating with Cuba and the dangers of adopting the plans of Senator Marco Rubio, who looks to revive the Bush-era policies. If he were to follow his own plans, President Trump could manage to fulfill many of his campaign promises, such as creating jobs, improving border security by means of a new migration agreement with Cuba, and providing protection from crime and terrorism. The author urges President Trump to work constructively with the Cuban government as President Raúl Castro transitions out of power in 2018.
By José R. Cárdenas (Foreign Policy, December 20, 2016)
This article calls for President-elect Trump to reconsider President Obama's policy towards Cuba in order to determine whether the changes are truly beneficial to the Cuban people. The author indicates several areas the Trump administration can focus on as it moves forward with its policy toward Cuba, such as re-establishing common ground with Cuban dissidents and human rights activists; reviewing any executive orders or deals made by President Obama; and reviewing the immigration privileges most Cubans receive within the U.S.
By Richard E. Feinberg and Ted Piccone (Americans Quarterly, December 8, 2016)
In December of 2016, President-elect Trump claimed that he planned to terminate any deals that had previously been made between President Obama and President Raúl Castro. This article outlines specific policy steps that could be taken to reach agreement and serve the interests of both the United States and Cuba. Shared issues such as terrorism, irregular migration, narcotics, open markets, the settling of private property claims, religious freedom, access to information, and the release of political prisoners, could all be grounds for cooperation between the two nations.
Memo to President Trump and His Incoming Administration. U.S. Policy Toward Cuba: The Case for Engagement
(Cuba Study Group)
The Cuba Study Group issued a memo calling on President Trump to consider the recent progress made in U.S.-Cuba relations before reversing those changes. The group created a list of bilateral benefits to continuing U.S. engagement with Cuba as well as a list of the consequences of disengagement with Cuba. The study group urged President Trump to be aware of the issue of claims to expropriated U.S. properties, and the transition of Cuban leadership when President Raúl Castro steps down from his post in February 2018.