Friday, June 30, 2017

Trump renews some restrictions on travel to Cuba—just the ones that hurt his hotel competitors

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 16:  U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about policy changes he is making toward Cuba at the Manuel Artime Theater in the Little Havana neighborhood on June 16, 2017 in Miami, Florida. The President will re-institute some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. business dealings with entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence services.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
In a speech marked by Cold War rhetoric and Donald Trump mimicking a Cuban accent, Trump re-imposed travel restrictions that President Obama softened a year ago. Though Trump initially said he was going to “cancel” Obama’s policy on Cuba, his speech was actually much more fiery than the policy he delivered. Much of what Trump actually altered was symbolic, with a greater impact on American companies than on Cuba. Much of the significant changes were aimed at tourism, a target that has some definite losers other than the Cuban people.
The proposed changes in US-Cuba relations that President Donald Trump will unveil Friday in Miami could adversely impact hotel brands that directly compete with Trump's business empire, making it more difficult for them expand their foothold in Cuba.
Surely a coincidence. The regulations would restrict tourists traveling outside of groups, person to person deals, and travel arranged through the state-owned GAESA agency. 
The decision to prohibit business with GAESA to direct tourists to private companies and AirBnB is an example of Trump's ability to impact his business' competitors while in the White House. Trump's prohibition, in effect, puts other hotel companies on equal footing with his personal company -- not allowed to pursue future business in Cuba.
Under these policies, it will simply be harder for tourists to visit Cuba. 

Trump will surely take credit for “fulfilling a campaign promise,” but his revisions leave much of Obama’s changes, including a US embassy in Havana, intact. He took just enough steps to claim to have taken action, and made just enough of a speech to attack Obama for “reaching out” to the Cuban regime.

Trump also laid claim to the coming departure of Raul Castro in 2018, though Castro announced those plans in 2013.

If Trump’s unique way of saying “China” is jarring, it’s nothing beside his tendency to slip into mock Cubano as he says the name of the country or other locations.
He returned to imitation Scarface at several points in the speech as he played to the Miami crowd. Trump also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play that old favorite …
"This room is packed. You know, it wasn't designed for this."
Once he had the Cuba points out of the way, Trump treated the speech like a mini-rally, returning to the theme of how he won the election and how everyone else was wrong. He made at least two more mentions of the size of the crowd, dropped a mention of the “tremendous margin” that Florida gave him, and mentioned that “tomorrow” is the anniversary of when he began his presidential campaign. It’s actually today.

He also pointedly mentioned that it was just a couple of days past his birthday, prompting a singing of happy birthday from the crowd of Trump supporters.

Trump cover story on Newsweek on his Cuba dealings.
Somehow, this didn’t come up.

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