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The evolution of U.S.-Cuba policy (2009-2017)

U.S. Cuba policy has changed significantly since George W. Bush left the White House in 2009. Even after Trump’s announcement of policy changes, relations with Cuba remain much closer and restrictions on travel to the island are vastly improved, especially for Cuban Americans.
16 Jun 2017 – 4:03 PM EDT



Commerce
Before Obama
The US allowed the sale of agricultural products to Cuba as well as some medical equipment, but no direct investment in the island. The US did not allow the import of any goods from Cuba. Financial dealings with the Cuban military were banned under the US embargo.
With Obama
Obama relaxed restrictions on commercial dealings with Cuba, including with the island’s extensive network of military-run enterprises. Obama also removed Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2015. Cuba had been on the list since 1982. Being listed subjects a country to U.S. restrictions on banking and financial cooperation as well as foreign aid.
With Trump
Trump will ban any financial transactions with military-run companies grouped under the holding company GAESA (Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S.A.) that controls 50% of Cuba’s economy, by some estimates.
Travel
Before Obama
The Bush administration tightened restrictions on travel and remittances. Cuban American families were only allowed to visit their relatives in the island for up to two weeks every three years. This applied only for immediate family (parents and children only). They could only send $300 quarterly in remittances. (i.e. $1,200 a year total). US travel to Cuba was strictly limited to journalists, US officials, the sale of US agricultural goods, as well as humanitarian, religious and medical reasons.
With Obama
Under Obama, 12 categories of legal travel to Cuba were created either in group packages or as individual “self-directed” tours, for culture, education, sports, religion etc. There was little effort to investigate or enforce violations.
With Trump
Trump will limit the category for “people-to-people” travel to group packages only. Trump will strictly enforce reporting requirements for U.S. travelers who will need to present documents showing their itinerary under one of the 12 categories. They will be subject to audit by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Embargo
Before Obama
The Bush administration loudly upheld the US embargo and fought off efforts in Congress to weaken it. It voted at the UN firmly against an annual resolution condemning the embargo.
With Obama
Obama criticized the long standing U.S. embargo on trade and commerce with Cuba, but made no effort to lift it in Congress. In 2016, he abstained at the United Nations in an annual vote to condemn the embargo.
With Trump
Trump will ban any financial transactions with military-run companies grouped under the holding company GAESA (Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S.A.) that controls 50% of Cuba’s economy, by some estimates.
Human rights and democracy
Before Obama
The US condemned Cuba’s human rights record including the lack of free, multi-party elections and the harassment and arrest of dissidents. It supported dissidents in Cuba via a USAID pro-democracy program.
With Obama
Obama continued the USAID pro-democracy program, but he did not directly tie his policy to human rights and democracy, though he did persuade Cuba to release dozens of political prisoners in 2015.
With Trump
Trump will demand that Cuba hold free elections and stop jailing political opponents before any improvement in relations can occur.
RELACIONADOS:News in EnglishRelaciones Cuba Estados UnidosCubaGráficos Noticias
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