BREAKING: Trump policy on Cuba includes new restrictions on travel, business

FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2015 file photo, a Cuban and American flag wave from the balcony of the Hotel Saratoga in Havana. President Barack Obama will announce July 1 that the U.S. and Cuba have reached an agreement to open embassies in Havana and Washington, a senior administration official said. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

MIAMI, Fl —

President Donald Trump announced he’s ‘canceling’ Obama-era Cuba policies, replacing it with a new policy that keeps a few changes made by the former president while placing restrictions on business exchanges and travel for U.S. citizens to the nation in order to negotiate “a better deal”

“I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump said in Friday’s announcement in Miami’s Little Havana, home to many Cuban Americans.

Trump slammed the Obama administration’s policies, calling them an “appeasement” to the Castro-led communist regime and that he will “expose the crimes of the Castro regime” against human rights.

Obama spent his last two years lifting restrictions, even traveling to the island in 2016.

Trump said easing restrictions of travel and trade “does not help the Cuban people.”

Trump also demanded that Cuba return Joanne Chesimard to the US during Friday’s announcement.

In 1977, Chesimard was found guilty for the death of a New Jersey state trooper, shot and killed during a traffic stop.

According to the Associated Press, Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison but escaped in November 1979 and eventually traveled to Cuba, where Fidel Castro granted her asylum. She’s been living there ever since under the name ‘Assata Shakur.’

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has been an advocate for Chesimard’s return to the US as part of any change in Cuban policy.

MORE DETAILS FROM AP:

2:15 p.m. —-

Trump says in a speech in Miami that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban people’s right to freedom of assembly and expression.

Trump is also calling for the legalization of all political parties, and free and internationally supervised elections.

The president says his new policy will also restrict the flow of American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of the government led by Raul Castro. He has challenged Cuba to “come to the table” to strike a deal that serves both country’s interests.

1:49 p.m. —

Sen. Jeff Flake is criticizing President Donald Trump’s new policy on Cuba.

The Arizona Republican says any policy change “that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people.”

Flake, a frequent critic of Trump during the presidential campaign, has been among the most outspoken lawmakers opposed to rolling back the Obama-era detente with Havana.

Flake has warned that returning to a “get tough” policy that isolates the island would hurt everyday Cubans whose livelihoods are increasingly rooted in travel and tourism.

He’s calling on the Senate’s GOP leadership to allow a vote on his legislation that would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.

The bill has 54 co-sponsors.

11:50 a.m. —

President Donald Trump says his administration’s new policy on Cuba aims to “empower” the citizens of that country. The president tweeted while en route to Miami, where he’ll announce his plans for halting the flow of U.S. cash to Cuba’s military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations.

The tweet reads, “Headed to Miami to announce new U.S. policy on Cuba. We are going to empower the Cuban people and hold the regime accountable!”

The new policy is only a partial reversal from that of the Obama administration.

But they will burden the U.S. government with the complicated task of policing Americans’ travel to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy.

 

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