During a press briefing attended by TNT Journalist, Tom Olohan, concerning the administration’s changes to America’s Cuba Policy, senior administration officials repeatedly insisted that President Trump had no desire to limit the economic opportunities of ordinary Cubans, but was determined to throttle all American trade which benefited Cuba’s Military and intelligence agencies.
Senior administration officials tied the recent change to President Trump’s promises to Cuban-Americans, announcing that he had fulfilled his promises to that community and to the Bay of Pigs Veteran Association in Miami, which had broken with precedent to support Trump after his nomination.
While administration officials were hesitant to discuss many specific details, they stated that the State Department was compiling a list of properties and companies with significant ties to the Cuban Military and Cuban intelligence agencies, especially hotels. They stated that any organizations like these would be subjected to sanctions. However, they also noted that while this new policy would go into effect on Friday, no significant changes would be made until new regulations were put in place.
Although he condemned the Obama Administration’s changes to the Cuba Policy, one administration official stated that “we can’t put the genie back in the bottle” before explaining that many existing business ties, currently planned trips to Cuba, and trade that did not benefit the Cuban Military and intelligence services would be allowed to continue for the present time. They also stated that there were currently no additional restriction on items which people could bring back from Cuba.
President Trump, according to these officials, is open to a deal with the Cuban Government, contingent on the release of political prisoners and free elections throughout Cuba. Trump reportedly consulted experts at several different departments, including the Department of Agriculture, while working with Members of Congress who are vocal on this issue, especially Senator Marco Rubio.
Administration officials sought to contrast the Trump Administration’s approach to Cuba, and the world at large, with a display of weakness in both areas by the Obama Administration. At the same time, they hope that by sparing the people of Cuba and starving its government, Washington can push Cuba towards democracy without an increase in anti-American sentiment on the island.