President Donald Trump on Friday is set to put a chill on the thawed relations between the U.S. and Cuba his predecessor put in place just three years ago.
will not go so far as to sever diplomatic ties with Havana or shutter the U.S. embassy that reopened there in 2015. But he will impose new limits on commercial transactions that involve the Cuban military. And Americans will no longer be allowed to travel to the island on their own for "people-to-people" purposes, once the new rules are in place.
"While not a full reversal of the Obama opening," writes Ben Rhodes, the architect of the rapprochement under the Obama administration,
Trump's actions have put relations between the United States and Cuba back into the prison of the past—setting back the prospects for reform inside of Cuba, and ignoring the voices of the Cuban people and a majority of Americans just so that he can reward a small and dwindling political constituency.
On Thursday Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said she was "appalled and saddened" by the reported reversal, calling it "a completely unnecessary step backwards" that "makes no sense and achieves nothing."
"Withdrawing from Cuba cannot and will not achieve our goals," Lee stated. "As President Obama recognized, progress demands open dialogue and mutual cooperation between our two nations."
Amnesty International USA similarly cautioned against a Cuba policy reversal, saying it would harm both nations.
"Increased political dialogue, travel, and trade between the U.S. and Cuba is critical to advancing human rights in both countries," said Marselha Gonçalves Margerin, advocacy director for the Americas at the organization.
"If President Trump returns to the Cold War rhetoric of isolation, we will revert to a politicization of human rights on both sides, which will be detrimental to advancing independent scrutiny of Cuba's human rights situation," she continued.