Mr Trump has banned Americans from bringing Cuban alcohol and tobacco home
US President Donald Trump announced On Wednesday that Americans traveling to Cuba would not be allowed to stay in the island’s state-owned hotels or bring home Cuban cigars and rum.
Mr Trump’s efforts to woo Cuban-American voters with new restrictions to further tighten the Cuban government’s revenue stream may have limited practical effect, according to media analysis.
[New sanctions’ minimal ‘impact]
At a White House event, Trump said: “The Treasury Department is banning U.S. travelers from staying on Cuban government-owned properties… We will also further restrict the import of Cuban alcohol and tobacco products.”
U.S. citizens are allowed to buy local rum and cigars while traveling in Cuba, but are not allowed to bring them home, according to a Treasury Department fact sheet. The new ban covers more than 430 hotels in Cuba that are deemed to be owned or controlled by the Cuban government. American participation in professional meetings, performances and sporting events in Cuba has also been banned.
The decision goes against the policy of former President Barack Obama. Under Obama, the U.S. government restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014 after half a century of hostility, eased travel restrictions on Americans traveling to the island and encouraged the return of Cuban specialties like cigarettes and alcohol. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has taken various measures to restore the economic embargo against Cuba.
At the event, Trump said Obama had made a “weak, pathetic, one-sided deal” with the Cuban leader and linked Obama’s Cuba policy to that of his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, vowing to end “Obama and Biden’s pandering to Cuba.”
A Cuban embassy official in Washington said the Trump administration’s sanctions policy against Cuba was “wrong” and widely opposed by the U.S. community, including cuban-Americans.
Lawrence Ward, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, the law firm, told the Associated Press that the us government currently only allows US citizens to apply for travel to Cuba for specific reasons, such as visiting relatives, and that Mr Trump’s new restrictions would make it harder to do so because hotels in Cuba are mostly government-funded. The us measures will have “only a marginal impact” on the Cuban government and economy, but may be “more symbolic and political” because there are few international copycats.
[” Courting “Cuban voters]
Democrats believe Mr Trump is pursuing foreign policy for his own political gain. In an email, Democratic Party spokesman Enrique Gutierrez said Trump was “trying to curry favor” with Florida’s Cuban-American voters by imposing sanctions on Cuba, where he had planned to do business as a former businessman.
Trump recently revealed that he is considering the nomination of Barbara Lagoja, a Cuban-American woman from Florida, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of renowned Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Nearly a third of Florida’s 13.8m voters, or 4.5m, are of Cuban origin, according to The Pew Research Centre. Florida is one of the “swing states” in the US presidential election, and its voters are not as partisan as they should be, and its vote could be crucial to the outcome of the election. Cuban-american voters, concentrated in areas such as Miami in southern Florida, are an important base that republicans have been trying to win and secure. Many of this group are Cuban immigrants who moved to the United States around the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and their descendants, and are generally hostile to the Cuban government.
Mr Trump narrowly defeated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percentage points in the 2016 election. He is now in a tight race with Biden in Florida, and his team is scheduled to hold a rally in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday.
Mr. Trump’s new sanctions against Cuba had been in the works for a long time and were not designed for electoral advantage, said Carrie Filipetti, the assistant secretary of state for Cuba and Venezuela. The new policy “will continue until after the outbreak is over,” she said.
Cuba has banned foreign tourists from entering the country because of the coVID-19 outbreak, and the new US restrictions are unlikely to have an immediate effect, According to Reuters. (Finished) (Xinhua News Agency special Draft)
Key words: Donald Trump, Cuba