Tougher Trump line toward Cuba delights hardliners on island

US President Donald Trump speaks about policy changes he is making toward Cuba in Little Havana in Florida

Trump's new executive action, however, will not lift sanctions against Cuba until it released all political prisoners and respected the Cuban people's right to freedom of assembly and expression.

Mr Trump will justify his partial reversal of Mr Obama's measures to a large extent on those grounds, said White House officials, and some Cuban dissidents back his tougher stance, saying repression has worsened since the detente. US airlines and cruise ships would still be allowed to service the island.

But during the 2016 race to the White House he met veterans of Brigade 2506, the units of exiled Cubans covertly trained by the Central Intelligence Agency to launch the ill-fated 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in a failed bid to oust then Cuban strongman Fidel Castro.

In a memo from the Trump administration, it notes "any further improvements in the United States-Cuba relationship will depend entirely on the Cuban government's willingness to improve the lives of the Cuban people", and also mandates regular reporting of progress toward this objective. "The stronger there, the longer it's gonna take for us to take back our country", said Eddie Ameneiro in Chicago. But the significant policy shift will curtail Americans' ability to travel freely to Cuba, even as numerous USA airlines, hotels and travel sites like AirBnb have begun offering services there.

Cubans said they were crestfallen to be returning to an era of frostier ties with the USA amid news that President Donald Trump had rolled back parts of a historic detente with Cuba.

However, Trump avoided turning back the clock completely, leaving intact many steps toward normalization. He has already pulled the United States out of a major global climate treaty and is trying to scrap his predecessor's landmark healthcare program. Trump isn't overturning Obama's decision to end the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allowed most Cuban migrants who made it onto U.S. soil to stay and eventually become legal permanent residents.

This is the third major Obama-era accomplishment that has been reversed by Trump, who first repealed his predecessor's signature healthcare law, Obamacare, and then went on to announce US's withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate deal. Obama concluded that the Cold War policy had failed, and sought a policy of d├ętente with Havana. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, when governor of Georgia in 2010, led a delegation to Cuba and said at the time to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I think business cures a lot of ills". "It's a handsome place, but they're supporting the communists". Trump's vow to keep the broader decades-old United States economic embargo on Cuba firmly in place drew criticism from some U.S. farmers, especially growers of corn, soybeans and rice.

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Mexico's foreign ministry urged the United States and Cuba to resolve their differences "via dialogue".

"His speech was aggressive and threatening, . revealing his contempt and ignorance" the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro said. "We reject Donald Trump's declarations against our brother Cuba". And a blanket ban on USA transactions with Cuba's military conglomerate would just create opportunities for European, Asian and Latin American investors to fill the gap, depriving the US of influence and commercial opportunities.

Nor does the measure affect the ability of Cuban-Americans to travel freely to the island and send money to relatives there, or a broad array of rules the Obama administration put in place aimed at making it easier for U.S. companies to do business in Cuba.

In his memo on the new policy, Trump expressed support for the embargo, including opposing any measures at the United Nations or other global institutions calling for the end of the embargo, which has been in effect for more than half a century.

In his statement, Flake called for the Senate's GOP leadership to allow a vote on his legislation that he said would eliminate "archaic restrictions" on travel to Cuba that "do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world".

By reinstating restrictions on independent travelers, the Trump administration's new policy will hurt Cuba's emerging private sector that caters to American visitors, critics insist.

Under Trump's order, the Treasury and Commerce departments will be given 30 days to begin writing new regulations, which will not take effect until they are complete.

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