President Trump travelled Friday to a predominantly Cuban neighborhood of Miami to announce his plan to cool the warming relations between the United States and Cuba, chipping away at yet another key aspect of former President Barack Obama’s legacy.
Trump will propose that the United States strictly enforce authorized exemptions that allow travel between the US and Cuba and barring commerce with Cuban businesses owned by military and intelligence services.
Trump will also direct Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to convene a task force on expanding Internet access on the island and reiterate the United States’ opposition to efforts in the United Nations to lift the Cuban embargo until more is done to honor human rights.
The departure is the latest example of Trump taking action to undercut his predecessor’s legacy.
Trump has been personally invested in this process, multiple aides said, adding that the President deeply believes that the changes Obama announced in 2014 were a “bad deal for the United States and a bad deal for the Cuban people.”
“It has not led to greater freedom in Cuba,” one official said. “I don’t think you would see him go back to the embargo wholesale, look for ways to leverage America’s influence over Cuba in a way that will encourage greater freedom for the Cuban people and economic interaction.”
Tillerson said the shift in relations comes, in part, because “Cuba has failed to improve its human rights record.”
“What we have to achieve in approaching Cuba is if we’re going to sustain the sunny side of the relationship, Cuba must, absolutely must, begin to address its human rights challenges,” Tillerson said Tuesday.
Ahead of Friday’s remarks, the Cuban government — including Cuban President Raul Castro — is signaling a willingness to negotiate with Trump.
“We know they have a different view of the world,” a Cuban official told CNN. “We understand that.”