USA bishops call for engagement amid Trump's policy change on Cuba

USA bishops call for engagement amid Trump's policy change on Cuba

It's a sharp contrast to Obama's a year ago, during which top USA and Cuban diplomats met regularly to discuss topics including law-enforcement cooperation and compensation for Americans whose property was taken during the 1959 Cuban revolution.

No doubt Cuban leaders counted on the United States not to look back after former President Barack Obama reversed longstanding policies toward the communist island in December 2014.

Disappointed with President Trump's decision to reverse US policy on Cuba, a committee of American Catholic bishops is calling on the president to keep ordinary Cubans in mind as he curtails trade and tourism.

The Cuban government responded in a statement that Trump's discourse was laden with "hostile rhetoric" of the past, but the last two years "have demonstrated that the two countries ... can cooperate" and live peacefully in a civilised manner while respecting their differences.

Cuba is no longer a satellite state of the Soviet Union.

Some study overseas and academic exchange will continue to be allowed under the rule change, as 12 categories of travel to Cuba - including some educational activities and professional research and meetings - will remain permissible.

But in a rollback of these people-to-people exchanges, travel for non-academic educational purposes will be limited to organised group travel - which will be subject to these same conditions.

Trump confirmed that he thus repeals the Policy Directive for the normalization of relations with Cuba, issued by Obama in October 2016, and reinforces the application of the extraterritorial blockade, among other limitations.

The Cuban Foreign Minister assured that Trump ignored the majority support to the lifting of the blockade and the normalization of relations with Cuba, by members of Congress, many of them Republicans, as well as the business sector, various civil society organizations, Cuban.Americans, the press, social networks and public opinion in general. In addition, both Treasury and Commerce have clarified that the regulatory changes will be prospective and will not affect existing contracts and licenses. This includes Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. (GAESA), its affiliates, subsidiaries, and successors. The State Department will identify a specific list of such entities based on an assessment of whether direct financial transactions would "disproportionately benefit" the Cuban military "at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise".

President Trump's move asks the U.S. Secretary of State to launch a task force concerning the expansion of internet access in Cuba and to repeat the U.S. opposition to United Nations efforts to lift the embargo on Cuba until more is done to address human rights concerns. America's relationship with Cuba has been long, complex, and guided for a long time by titanic global geopolitical affairs.

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