Republicans divided as Trump reverses some Obama Cuba policy

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Gardner said the administration's new policies mean it's up to the Cuban government to lift its own restrictions on the Cuban people before the United States further thaws relations between the two countries. Still, Cuba said it is willing to continue "respectful dialogue" with on topics of mutual interest.

Trump yesterday was set to announce a plan to tighten rules on Americans travelling to Communist-run Cuba and significantly restrict USA firms from doing business with Cuban enterprises controlled by the military, White House officials said.

Saying that the aim was to fix what Trump has called a "bad deal" struck by Obama, U.S. officials said the new administration would leave the door open to improved relations if Cuba undertakes democratic reforms such as allowing free elections and releasing political prisoners.

Trump is going to restrict United States citizens travel to Cuba, seeking to prevent people from going to the island as tourists, which is forbidden by law but was easily sidestepped under Obama.

"The Cuban government denounces the new measures hardening the blockade that are destined to fail. and that will not achieve their aim of weakening the revolution", Havana said.

The president, who promised to be tough on Havana during the presidential campaign, outlined stricter enforcement of a long-time ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists and will seek to prevent US dollars from being used to fund what he sees as a repressive military-dominated government.

The President said it was hard to think of a policy "that makes less sense than the prior administration's bad and misguided deal" with the "brutal" Castro government. He said Obama's deal with Cuba was "a capitulation". Emmer, Crawford and five other House Republicans have warned that rolling back U.S. Cuba policy could threaten new bilateral agreements with Havana to combat human trafficking, illicit drugs and cyber crimes. They are instructed to reverse a rule Obama put in place last year to allow Americans who are making educational or cultural trips to initiate their own travel to Cuba without special permission from the USA government and without a licensed tour company, as long as they kept records of their activities for five years.

Granma, the official organ of Cuba's Communist Party, described Trump's declarations in real-time blog coverage Friday as "a return to imperialist rhetoric and unilateral demands". "Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing USA law". Trump is preparing to tighten at least some of Obama's changes, including restricting business with the Cuban military and that resembles tourism.

Those restrictions could be far-reaching, Sabatini says, as the Cuban military controls two-thirds of the island's economy, including "a large chunk of hospitality, the big mega-hotels and many state-run restaurants".

White House officials also said it's the category most ripe for abuse, with Americans using it to skirt the tourism ban.

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"We're pushing back, but we need the public to push back", Lee said. Most US business deals with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group are also likely to be banned.

Donald Trump went to Havana which is the spiritual home of the Cuba-American community.

Trump had framed his revision as a move against a "cruel and brutal" regime: bypassing the state military-run business group GAESA to channel investment to the people.

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

"America has rejected the Cuban people's oppressors", Trump said in Miami's Little Havana, the cradle of Cuban-American resistance to Castro's government. They could make traveling to Cuba more hard for passengers, who would be subject to audit by the Treasury Department to ensure their trips to Cuba fall into one of the 12 acceptable purposes.

But Bennet, who visited Cuba with a congressional delegation in February, called Trump's move "disappointing" and said it stands to stymie potential export markets for Colorado businesses and agriculture producers. It was also not clear how the new travel rules would affect Americans who have already planned their own trips to Cuba.

Worldwide human rights groups say, however, that reinstating a US policy of isolating the island could make the situation worse by empowering Cuban hardliners.

"Last year, I promised to be. a voice for the freedom of the Cuban people", he said in Friday's speech.

The change could have sweeping implications for US companies, but it is not clear how it will affect existing deals, such as the one struck by Starwood Hotels and Resorts past year to manage hotels in Cuba, including one owned by the military conglomerate Gaviota.