Donald Trump expected to announce Cuba policy next week

Tourism to Cuba remains illegal under US law, but has become allowable under many circumstances

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The Independent US

Donald Trump is expected to outline his new policy on Cuba next week, announcing steps that could reverse some of the changes made by former President Barack Obama to open commerce and travel after a half-century standoff with the communist island.

The Trump administration has been discussing policy changes that include prohibiting business with the Cuban military while maintaining the full diplomatic relations restored by Mr Obama.

The White House has also been debating new restrictions on American leisure travel to Cuba, which has more than tripled since Mr Obama's 2014 announcement.

Mr Trump is expected to announce the policy on Friday in Miami, according to a person familiar with the plan. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning. The White House said the timing of the announcement had not yet been finalised. 

Mr Obama's policy moves have led to extensive corporate investment on the island, including new, daily commercial flights, licences for US hotel operators and agricultural investment by US companies.

Mr Trump will be under pressure from lawmakers and corporate interests to continue the US engagement with Havana. 

Tourism to Cuba remains illegal under US law, but has become allowable under many circumstances. American travellers to the island must fall into one of 12 categories of justification for their travel, ranging from religious to educational activities meant to bring the traveller into contact with Cuban people. 

But Mr Obama eliminated restrictions on “people to people” travel, opening the door for tens of thousands of travellers to book their own independent trips to Cuba.

Opponents of these changes said that allowed many Americans to engage in prohibited tourism on an island where the Castro government has driven exiles from their homes and businesses for decades. 

The President, who was spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, has been developing the policy changes in consultation with members of Congress, including Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

Mr Rubio said in a statement he was confident Trump would “keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and advance the Cuban people's aspirations for economic and political liberty.”

Associated Press

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