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Many Cuban exiles embrace Trump policy but want more

17 June 2017

President Donald Trump on Friday ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and a clampdown on US business dealings with the island's military, saying he was canceling former President Barack Obama's "terrible and misguided deal" with Havana.

Trump drew bipartisan praise from the Garden State when he singled out Chesimard on Friday during his speech rolling back former President Barack Obama's Cuba policy.

President Donald Trump has declared that he's "cancelling the previous administration's" Cuba policy, which he calls "one-sided" in favor of Havana.

While noting that Canada has long turned a softer eye toward Cuba than American governments, Trudeau said he doesn't expect the renewed US economic and travel restrictions will hurt Canadian business and tourism ties with Cuba.

Transactions related to the operation of the USA embassy in Havana, the operation of the Guantánamo naval base, the promotion of Cuban democracy and the expansion of telecommunications access to the Cuban people, will also be exempt from the policy, an unnamed official said.

The new restrictions bar any financial dealings between US firms and GAESA, Cuba's military-run conglomerate, which includes companies in such sectors as tourism, food and energy, among others.

"The new policy makes clear that the primary obstacle to the Cuban people's prosperity and economic freedom is the Cuban military's practice of controlling virtually every profitable sector of the economy".

Even with carve-outs, the new policy could pose problems for some United States businesses, including hoteliers and airlines that have put on regular flights between the USA and the Cuban capital.

"I can assure you that Raul Castro is filling his pockets with American currency right now", Molina said. Trump's new measures mainly relate to stricter enforcement of existing laws that had begun to loosen as Obama sought a rapprochement. "We will enforce the embargo", he said. "Sadly we'll have to live with that again", Yosvany Flores, a young Cuban, told Xinhua.

"I had to eat the leaves from the trees", he said.

People who escape Cuba and turn up on US shores will still be returned to the country.

The Cuban government had no immediate comment, but ordinary Cubans said they were crestfallen to be returning to an era of frostier relations with the United States with potential economic fallout for them.

"The big takeaway for me was that the people of Cuba, the ones I met anyway, many of them in the art community are very eager to open their horizons", Warden said.

Boosting travel was a key aim of Obama's effort to restore ties with Cuba after a half-century chill, which culminated with a visit by the then-president in 2016.

Cuban-Americans can still visit and send funds, limiting the impact in Florida, where many emigres settled and where many turned out a year ago to vote for Trump. US travelers are engaging in what amounts to illegal tourism, but they are also and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars the restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts that are driving the growth of Cuba's nascent private sector.

Only the U.S. Congress can lift the embargo, and lawmakers, especially those of Cuban heritage like Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, have shown no interest in doing so.

Weissenstein reported from Havana and Lederman from Washington.

Under the expected changes, the USA will ban American financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA, which operates dozens of hotels, tour buses, restaurants and other facilities.

He watched in his kitchen on Friday as President Trump announced he's clamping down on travel and commercial ties with Cuba.

For the announcement, the White House chose to have Trump speak at the Manuel Artime Theate in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.

"As an attorney you have to keep up with the law but if the law and rules keep changing constantly - which it does every week it seems - it's very hard", she said.