United States

Trump maybe headed to Miami June 16 for Cuba policy announcement

Trump is widely expected to roll back parts of President Obama's historic initiative to normalize relations with Cuba, though it's unclear how far he will go.
Univision News Logo
9 Jun 2017 – 5:51 PM EDT

President Donald Trump plans to travel to Miami next Friday to announce changes to U.S.-Cuba policy, raising speculation that he could unravel a two-and-a-half year old rapprochment between the two former Cold War enemies, several sources told Univision.

However, the White House told Univision there was "no set date" or location for the announcemnet.

It remains unclear exactly what the changes will be and how far the president plans to go to satisfy hardline Cuban American exiles in Miami who have been demanding a roll back of former President Barack Obama's policy of normalizing relations with the communist-run island.

One source told Univision that while the timing of the announcement had been finalized, White House staff are still working on the details. "Decision has been made directionally. Will be June 16th. Substance is still being finalized," one source told Univision.

The announcement could coincide with a major conference on Central America to be held next Thursday and Friday at Florida International University and the United States Southern Command military headquarters.

Vice president Mike Pence as well as three Cabinet members - Foreign Secretary Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security chief John Kelly and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - are taking part in the conference.

The trip would be Trump’s first to Miami as president, a city he visited several times during the election campaign. Since being elected he has frequently visited his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and a nearby golf course he owns. He also owns the Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.

The White House said in February that Cuba policy was under comprehensive inter-agency review, raising speculation that a major overhaul could be in the works.

During the campaign Trump promised to take a hard look at Obama's policy of engagement with Cuba launched in December 2014 that has seen a massive boom in tourism between the two former Cold War enemies, including a dramatic increase in airline flights as well as cruises.

Although he fared poorly in South Florida on election day, Trump won the support of older Cuban Americans, many of whom are now hoping to see Obama's policy thrown overboard.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Miami Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans of Cuban descent, have pressured the Trump administration to undo parts of Obama's policy.

“I am absolutely confident that the president is going to deliver on his word, on his commitments,” Diaz-Balart told the Miami Herald in a recent interview. “He was very clear that he thought that President Obama in essence got nothing in exchange for the concessions he gave to the Castro regime.”

A number of members of Congress who favor closer U.S.-Cuba ties have urged Trump to maintain Obama’s approach. Last month a record number of 54 U.S. senators reintroduced legislation to repeal all restrictions on travel to Cuba, indicating that legislative support for U.S.-Cuba engagement is growing on Capitol Hill.

Several U.S. Senators met with National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster on Thursday urging the White House not to make any changes.

"Engagement with Cuba supports U.S. national security interests," according to a letter to McMaster and Tillerson signed by three Republican Senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, and John Boozman of Arkansas, which cited cooperation on counter-terrorism activities, border control, and drug interdiction.

"Should the U.S. revert to its position of diplomatic, cultural and economic isolation, Cuba could very well revert to becoming a client state of nations that view U.S. interests as counter to their own," they wrote.

Despite the frequency of White House leaks, little has emerged to indicate which way the president is leaning. Despite pressure from Cubans in Miami for deep changes most experts do not expect Trump to cut diplomatic ties with Cuba after they were renewed by Obama in the summer of 2015.

Among the options that may be under consideration are tightening restrictions on U.S. firms seeking to do business with Cuban state firms linked to the all-powerful military and re-imposing stricter rules on Americans traveling there, experts say.

Cuban American hardliners in Miami would like to see specific restrictions on members of the Cuban government receiving any kind of economic benefit from U.S. business investments and loosening of financial controls.

Since Obama relaxed restrictions, U.S. companies have begun exploring business opportunities in Cuba, from hotels to telephone and internet ventures. But there has been little U.S. investment there so far, largely due to Cuba's own political system, which officially rejects capitalism.

Trump could also intensify pressure on Cuba over its human rights record, the island's most vulnerable issue. Although the number of long term political prisoners in Cuba has fallen, "short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years," according to Human Rights Watch.

In photos: After Obama's visit, Cubans still waiting for change

Cargando galería
RELACIONADOS:United StatesLatin America