Sen. Marco Rubio played a big roll in President Trump’s Cuba rollback


When President Donald Trump stood on a hot stage in the “Little Havana,” section Miami he gave a big shout out to his new best friend Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Trump was in Miami to keep his campaign promise to South Florida Cuban-American’s to rollback former President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive that rolled back some of trade and travel embargo’s that had been in place since 1962.

Florida Sen. Rubio, has been credited along with Congress member Mario Diaz-Balart, in writing the lions share of President Trump’s new executive order on Cuba. He tweeted Friday that individual American travelers will still be able to go to Cuba for the purpose of supporting the Cuban people, a category that includes helping human rights organizations and non-governmental groups meant to strengthen democracy and civil society.

Under the newly crafted Rubio/Trump policy, the popular individually planned educational visits will no longer be allowed, and Americans will be prohibited from spending money at state-run hotels and restaurants with ties to the Cuban military.

Despite some strong language there will still be some Obama accomplishment left in the order such as the U.S. will continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, keeping embassies open in Havana and Washington. Trump however has made the choice to drop the the wet foot, dry foot policy, which allowed Cuban immigrants who reached U.S. soil to remain in the country. Cuban-Americans can continue to visit and send money to the island nation.

The new policy would keep another Obama policy in place by continuing flights and cruise ship trips to Cuba, and Americans could continue to book accommodations through home-sharing services such as Airbnb, officials said.

The Trump order will have much tighter restrictions on travel than were in place during the Obama administration. While tourism to Cuba is banned, Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba for 12 reasons, such as for family visits, humanitarian missions and research.

Americans will still be able to visit family in Cuba and take part in group educational trips.

However, they could be subject to auditing by the federal government on all things they do while in Cuba. The reason would be to verify they are following the regulations, officials said told the Associated Press.

President Trump is ending individual “people-to-people” travel, which enabled Americans to plan their own educational trips. That very popular plan allowed people to hop on a plane and head to the island nation where they would learn about the island’s culture, officials said. The Obama administration allowed those trips in an attempt to foster understanding between the people of Cuba and the United States.

Some very good news again from Associated Press reports and that is Trump will keep in place the Obama plan where souvenirs, such as cigars and rum, that can be brought back to the United States, officials said. The Obama administration eased restrictions last year, allowing travelers to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum.

Agencies will have 30 days to begin writing the regulations once Trump signs the policy order, officials said. They did not provide a timeline for how long it could take for the new policies to take effect.

In a statement, to the Associated Press and the Sun-Sentinel, the  Doral-based cruise line Carnival Corp. said it is pleased the directive will allow its ships to continue to sail to Cuba.

“We will review the extent of the tightening of the travel rules, but our guests have already been traveling under the 12 approved forms of travel to Cuba since we first undertook our historic first cruise to Cuba more than a year ago,” company officials said.

No word yet from the airlines or the companies that hope to do business in Cuba as their legal representative do a deep dive into the Trump executive order.

 

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved with Berman Concerts and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.