Trump rolls back Obama’s Cuba policy; Cuba criticises move

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Washington: File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photo - AP/PTI

FILE: Washington: File photo of US President Donald Trump.
Photo – AP/PTI

US President Donald Trump cancelled his predecessor Barack Obama’s deal with Cuba. Trump labelled Obama’s deal as “one-sided”and again called for tightening to travel and trade rules with the island nation.

“Effective immediately, I am cancelling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba. I am announcing today a new policy just as I promised during the campaign. And I will be signing that contract right at that table in just a moment,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Miami’s Little Havana, the spiritual home of the Cuban- American community.

“Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America. We do not want US dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba. Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing US law,” Trump said on Friday.

Cuba’s government criticised Donald Trump’s “hostile rhetoric”, but reiterated Havana’s willingness to hold “respectful dialogue” with Washington.

“The government of Cuba denounces the new measures toughening the embargo” imposed since 1962, according to a statement read on state television on Friday.

In December 2014, Obama had announced that he and Castro were restoring ties and less than a year later, the US Embassy in Havana re-opened with Obama making a historic visit to Havana in 2016. Obama had pushed for expanding commerce and travel between the two countries.

However, Trump, in a complete reversal, asserted that he will not lift sanctions on Cuba unless it releases all political prisoners and respects freedoms.

“We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalised and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled elections,” Trump said.

“We will very strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security, and intelligence services that are the core of the Castro regime. They will be restricted. We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo,” he added.

Trump said his administration will expose the crimes of the Castro regime and stand with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom. He alleged that for nearly six decades, the Cuban people had suffered under the Communist domination.

To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores, Trump said.

“The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fuelled chaos in Venezuela. While imprisoning innocents, it has harboured cop killers, hijackers and terrorists. It has supported human trafficking, forced labour and exploitation all around the globe,” Trump alleged.

(With inputs from agencies)