Is Trump actually a threat to Cuba?

Trump is planning corrections in Cuba policy

When Donald Trump embarks on a political field that was particularly close to his predecessor Barack Obama's heart, headline-grabbing course changes are almost guaranteed. The US president has already turned things around in health, energy and environmental policy, as well as in the Middle East. His announced speech to Cubans in exile this Friday (7:00 p.m. CEST) in Florida on future Cuban politics is therefore awaited with some anticipation. Under President Obama, the USA resumed diplomatic relations with the island nation after a decade of ice age.

It may be a little different this time. Information from the White House suggests that Trump is not planning a return to the Cuba blockade. As high-ranking government officials assured in a press briefing, diplomatic contacts with Havana should not be broken off. In principle, the embassies remained open, albeit without an ambassador, and the travel regulations would only be tightened slightly.

Only with travel agent to the island

Americans can continue to travel to Cuba under certain conditions, for example if they want to visit family members or take part in a cultural, religious or academic exchange program. Trump's government is merely abolishing the possibility that they can organize an educational stay in Cuba themselves without going through a travel agent.

Group trips to Cuba - here Havana - are allowed as long as they are educational trips ...

The biggest cuts are planned in trade and business relationships between US and Cuban companies. According to Washington officials, the goal here is to dry up the flow of money to the Cuban military and secret services as much as possible - although the White House also admits that this is not entirely possible.

The new rules need a new framework

An entrepreneur from Iowa should continue to be allowed to sell electrical equipment to Cuba as long as it does not benefit the military or the secret services, the officials assure. But this is where the difficulties begin, because the military-secret service complex has extensive business connections and can control large parts of the Cuban economy. The Cuban army is involved in several joint ventures with foreign companies in the tourism sector, including the US hotel chain Marriott.

The new policy towards Cuba is to apply "immediately", it is said. In fact, implementation will be a long time coming, because the legal basis for it must first be created.

As expected, government officials left unanswered questions about why President Trump is so concerned about human rights in Cuba, and about political and religious freedoms there, while at the same time having no problem with close ties with states like Saudi Arabia.