Trump tightens Cuba sanctions as he woos Cuban-American vote in Florida

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that U.S. travelers won’t be allowed to bring home Cuban cigars and rum or stay in government-owned hotels there under new measures designed to help financially cripple the island’s government. The action came as Trump is seeking to boost his appeal among Cuban Americans, a crucial Republican-leaning voting bloc in the all-important state of Florida.

Trump made the announcement at the White House as he considers choosing a Cuban American woman from Florida to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump said the new Treasury Department sanctions will ensure that U.S. dollars do not fund the Cuban government. He has been taking steps over the past four years to reinstate an economic blockade of Cuba and reverse the strategy of restoring diplomatic relations with the Caribbean island, the policy pursued by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

At a White House ceremony honoring 20 veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, Trump assailed the Obama policy as a “weak, pathetic, one-sided deal” with Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro — and linked it to his presidential rival, Joe Biden, who was Obama’s vice president.

“I canceled the Obama-Biden sellout to the Castro regime,” Trump said.