President Donald Trump will reportedly announced a rollback of U.S.-Cuba policies that had been enacted by former President Barack Obama through executive orders. The Trump administration has signaled plans to take a stricter stance on trade and travel between the two countries, but are not expected to completely reverse the new acts.
The White House National Security Council is currently reviewing the Obama policies on Cuba. On May 30, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that the policy review would be completed by June.
"We're getting closer," a Trump administration official said.
On May 29, John Kavulich of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council asserted that the policy review was completed months beforehand.
"The Trump administration has been 'ready' since February 2017 to announce changes, but issues unrelated to Cuba have intervened," Kavulich told The Daily Caller.
Kavulich asserted that Trump would announce new travel restrictions and "a focus upon discouraging transactions with entities controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba."
In December 2014, Obama announced the reopening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. In March 2016, he became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in 85 years, according to Quartz.
The thawing of relations between the two countries had been facilitated by a series of executive orders. Obama eased travel and business restrictions that the U.S. had held over Cuba, but, by simply rescinding those executive orders, Trump could potentially undo all the concessions that brought Cuban President Raul Castro to the table.
In November 2016, Trump asserted on social media that he would end the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba unless Castro was willing to accept new terms.
"If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal," Trump tweeted out.
Sources familiar with the policy review asserted that Trump would not end the rekindled relations between the two countries, citing little support within the administration.
The Trump administration has been collaborating with three Cuban-American congressmen to help craft their new policies with Cuba. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey have all been reportedly urging the administration to pressure the Castro regime to improve its human rights record.
On April 5, Rubio signaled that Trump would impose new business restrictions that would cut out the Cuban military from profits.
"I am confident that President Trump will treat Cuba like the dictatorship it is and that our policy going forward will reflect the fact that it is not in the national interest of the United States for us to be doing business with the Cuban military," Rubio told the Miami Herald.
An anonymous group that is against the U.S. embargo on Cuba asserted that Trump would unveil his policy changes in June during an event in Miami.
While Trump may enact new travel restrictions on Cuba, a Senate majority has proposed loosening them even further.
On May 25, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont reintroduced a bill that would lift all restrictions for tourism between the U.S. and Cuba. The legislation is supported by 55 senators overall, MarketWatch reports.
James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, asserted that open tourism between the U.S. and Cuba would be mutually beneficial for both countries.
"We’re hopeful that the administration’s Cuba policy review will take into consideration the opinions of a U.S. industry that supports 7.6 million U.S. jobs, the vast majority of the American public, and the Cuban people over a few politicians in Washington," Williams said.