President Donald Trump traveled to Miami on Friday to announce that he would rescind an Obama-era pact with Cuba “effective immediately,” reintroducing a sweeping set of restrictions designed to isolate the communist nation until it acquiesces to a set of modern reforms.
“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump told a cheering crowd packed with Cuban exiles, a demographic that is understandably opposed to the Castro regime.
In doing so, Trump said, he would fulfill a key campaign promise that will effectively dismantle a cornerstone foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration’s second term.
“I keep my promises. And now that I am your president, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime,” he declared.
Under the Trump administration’s new policy, U.S. travelers to Cuba will essentially be vetted to ensure that they are only supporting private businesses and services instead of inadvertently aiding the Castro regime by giving money to GAESA, a corporation with deep ties to the military.
Whereas the Obama administration’s relaxed policies allowed U.S. travelers to freely traverse the country and spend their money where they chose, Trump will renew policies that only allow tourists to travel to the island nation as part of an organized tour group run by approved American companies.
In restoring a tough approach to dealing with Cuba and the Castro regime, Trump hopes to bring about a sea change in the oppressive country’s policies: “With God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” he said.
Critics of Trump’s decision claim that his approach has already been tested for decades and has not been effective enough to warrant another try. But prominent supporters, including Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), believe that the Obama administration’s friendly approach was just as misguided.
“A year and a half ago … 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,” Rubio said in a Friday speech given just before Trump took the stage.