Trump to Tighten Travel Rules, Restrict Business Deals With Cuba in Rollback of Obama Measures

Trump's expected memo on Cuba rollback will be revealed on Friday

Tourists walk next to a poster of Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. president Barack Obama ahead of Obama's landmark visit to the island, Havana, Cuba, March 18, 2016.
Tourists walk next to a poster of Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. president Barack Obama ahead of Obama's landmark visit to the island, Havana, Cuba, March 18, 2016. AFP

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce a rollback of measures implemented by Barack Obama in the countries ties with its neighbor Cuba on Friday.

According to reports by one U.S. official who had seen the president's memorandum on the issue, the rollback will include a tightening of travel restricitons on U.S. citizens travelling to the island and a restriction on U.S. business dealings with companies tied to Cuba's military.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Thursday that Trump will “make an announcement on U.S.-Cuba policy,” but did not offer any further details on the matter.

Former president Barack Obama implemented his Cuba normalization measures through executive actions that bypassed Congress, giving Trump the power to undo much of it with the stroke of a pen. 

There are divisions within the Trump administration however concerning the extant of the diplomatic rollbacks, especially given that Obama's opening to Washington's former Cold War foe has created opportunities for American companies ranging from telecommunications to airlines.

Some aides have argued that Trump, a former real estate magnate who won the presidency promising to unleash U.S. businesses and create jobs, would have a hard time defending any moves that close off the Cuban market. 

A group of 54 U.S. senators reintroduced legislation in May to repeal all remaining restrictions on travel to Cuba, signaling support for U.S.-Cuba detente on Capitol Hill. 

But the Republican administration has been under heavy pressure from Cuban-American lawmakers such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart to take a much harder line than Trump's Democratic predecessor.