Trump likely to unveil new Cuba policy this week

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump is expected to visit Miami as early as Friday to announce a new Cuba policy that could tighten rules on trade and travel, rolling back parts of former president Barack Obama's opening-up to the island, according to a US official and people familiar with the matter.

Mr Trump's aides are nearing completion of a review of relations with Cuba and are expected to send recommendations to his national security team, and then to the President in coming days, a US official said.

Plans are in the works for Mr Trump to roll out his new approach on Friday in a speech in Miami, where he is expected to claim fulfilment of a campaign promise and justify it, at least in part, on human rights grounds, the sources said.

Such an emphasis would contrast sharply with his approach in other parts of the world where he has insisted the US would stop lecturing other countries on the issue.

He is likely to unveil a partial rather than complete rollback of Mr Obama's actions, which included restoration of relations and reopening of embassies after a diplomatic breakthrough in 2014 with the US' former Cold War foe.

Among the options under consideration are banning US companies from doing business with Cuban enterprises tied to the military - which controls a large part of the economy - and tightening rules on Americans travelling there.

Some aides have argued that Mr Trump, who won the presidency promising to unleash US business and create jobs, would have a hard time defending any moves that close off the Cuban market.

But other advisers have contended it is important to make good on a promise to Cuban-Americans whose support was considered significant in winning the state of Florida in the 2016 election. Miami is home to the largest Cuban-American community.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Trump likely to unveil new Cuba policy this week'. Print Edition | Subscribe