What Trump’s Cuba crackdown will look like | Miami Herald
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI, NORA GÁMEZ TORRES AND MIMI WHITEFIELD
NOVEMBER 08, 2017 9:00 AM
The days of Americans legally staying at Ernest Hemingway’s Old Havana haunt, the Hotel Ambos Mundos, or making purchases at Havana’s only luxury shopping arcade, will be over under new regulations the Trump administration issued Wednesday as part of a crackdown on U.S. business and travel to Cuba.
Americans will be banned from doing business with 180 entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence and security services, including 83 hotels, stores, marinas, tourist agencies, industries and even two rum makers owned by the government. U.S. companies will be barred from investing in a sprawling economic development zone in Mariel that Cuba envisions as crucial to its commercial future.
President Donald Trump powered into East Little Havana and announced a sweeping change in relations intended to rebuke his predecessor’s opening toward the island.
José A. Iglesias Miami Herald
The long-awaited rules will take effect Thursday. The regulations, intended to cut off cash to Cuban leader Raúl Castro’s government and tighten U.S. travel to the communist island, stem from a directive President Donald Trump signed in Miami in June that outlined his new policy. Trump has distanced himself from former President Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba, criticizing him for getting a “one-sided” deal.
“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.
However, Miami Republican lawmakers who had cheered Trump’s more restrictive Cuba policies were openly critical of the new regulations Wednesday, saying they did not go far enough in punishing the Cuban government.
“Today’s announced regulations include some positive first steps,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said in a statement. “I am disappointed, however, that the regulations do not fully implement what the President ordered. It is clear that individuals within the bureaucracy who support the former administration’s Cuba policy continue to undermine President Trump.”
James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, which supports closer ties to the island, said he found the timing of the regulations release puzzling, coming while Trump is on an official visit to China.
“The Trump administration has yet again shown their hypocritical approach to human rights,” Williams said. “The great irony of releasing these regulations while President Trump stands in Communist China is dumbfounding.”
The Treasury, Commerce and State departments, together with the National Security Council, worked for months on the regulations, which took longer than some members of Congress and U.S.-Cuba policy experts expected. Sanctions against other countries, most notably North Korea, took priority for the administration, which continues to be understaffed in State and other agencies.
The White House also had to deal with the ongoing mystery over an alleged sonic attack against U.S. diplomats in Havana. While Washington has not accused the Cuban government of causing the attacks, it holds Havana responsible for not protecting Americandiplomats while on Cuban soil and has reduced its embassy staff by 60 percent.
But an administration official said at a morning briefing that the regulations had “nothing to do with the acoustic incidents.”