Marriott CEO urges Trump to improve ties with Cuba

Marriott CEO urges Trump to improve ties with Cuba

Marriott CEO urges Trump to improve ties with Cuba

Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces manage as much as 60 per cent of the state-run economy, including the island's largest tourism company.

The moves come after the US made steps to engage Cuba during the Obama administration.

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

And, according to one White House official, the administration does not intend to "disrupt" existing business deals such as one struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels, which is owned by Marriott International Inc, to manage a historic Havana hotel.

Trump and others who back the changes want to pressure the Castro regime to allow the island's private sector to grow and to stop beating and imprisoning political opponents, which dissident groups say increased after Obama's diplomatic thaw.

As a result, the changes - though far-reaching - appear to be less sweeping than many pro-engagement advocates had feared.

Diplomatic relations reestablished by Obama, including reopened embassies in Washington and Havana, will remain.

The new Trump policy will also prohibit most commercial transactions that allow money to flow to the Cuban military.

Critics say Obama didn't exact concessions from the Cuban government on human rights and democratic reforms.

Trump is expected to announce the changes Friday at Miami's Manual Artime Theater surrounded by prominent Cuban-Americans who back the move.

Obama announced in December 2014 that he and Cuban leader Raul Castro were restoring diplomatic ties between their countries, arguing that the policy the US had pursued for decades had failed to bring about change and that it was time to try a new approach. "Rubio and his wife, who was, by the way, lovely, and we had a very good discussion about Cuba because we have very similar views on Cuba", Trump said, adding that "Cuban people" were "very good" to him in the 2016 election. The Department of Treasury will create the new regulations and none of the changes will take effect until the regulations are completed.

The rules did not actually change what USA visitors are legally able to do in Cuba, and regular tourism is still technically illegal, but it allowed individuals to take people-to-people trips and self-certify in an affidavit that they had complied with those regulations.

Educational trips and so-called "people-to-people" group exchanges will be under greater scrutiny, with educational groups once again having to travel with a guide from a United States organization sponsoring the trip, a requirement the Obama policy had effectively eliminated. "I think, with these two years of Cuba enjoying the American tourist, they will think twice and change their policy".

But Trump's planned rollback of Obama's policy has drawn opposition from American businesses and the travel industry, which have begun making inroads on the island, as well as many lawmakers, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans. Trump's policy also will not reinstate the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which allowed any Cuban who made it to US soil to stay and become a legal resident.

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