Cuba rejects new US policy, saying pressure will not work

Places are reserved for journalists in the hearing room ahead of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Hart Senate Office Building

Numerous changes that President Barack Obama made to Cuban policy, including restoring diplomatic relations and re-establishing direct flight service, will remain under Trump's Cuba policy, which bars Americans and U.S. companies from any transactions that benefit the Cuban military.

President Donald Trump visited Miami Friday, where he announced a tightening of the rules on trade and travel enacted under former President Barack Obama.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez today defended his country " s right to grant political asylum to USA civil rights fighters, and made it clear that those people will not be returned to the United States. Repeating his absurd claim that the deal to reopen diplomatic relations and allow USA companies to operate on the island was "one-sided" and "terrible and misguided", the Trump administration is speaking not only for wealthy, right-wing Cuban exiles who were part of his base.

Donald Trump claims to want an end to the Castro regime and to encourage democratization in Cuba.

Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at conservative Washington think tank The Heritage Foundation, applauded Trump's emphasis on human rights and democracy in Cuba, telling NBC News that the ongoing repression there was a "global outrage and a shame". -Cuban relations, saying Trump had been badly advised and was resorting to "coercive methods of the past" that were doomed to fail.

Cuba would "continue the respectful dialogue and the cooperation in matters of common interest", it said.

Trump "did not win the Cuban vote, and did not win Florida with the Cuban vote", the FM said, adding that Trump lost all five counties with the highest density of Cuban-Americans, according to the election results.

The move is seen as an attempt to roll back parts of Obama's policy of normalizing US-Cuba diplomatic ties, which was introduced in December 2014. If they did they would have allowed ordinary Cubans to enjoy economic freedom, as the Chinese Communists began to do under Deng Xiaoping. But it makes some exceptions, including for air and sea travel, according to USA officials. In the first four months of 2017, the US has exported over $83 million worth of goods and services to the island.

"Cuba conceded political asylum or refuge to USA fighters for civil rights", Rodriguez said.

Cuba denounced these new measures as "hardening the embargo" and said they would fail.

"America is prepared to outstretch its hand and work with the people of Cuba, but we will not, we will not empower their oppressors", Sen.

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But Trump's action fell well short of doing so. He also maintained Obama's decision to cancel the wet-foot/dry-foot immigration policy that allowed Cuban refugees automatic asylum if they touched USA soil.

Nor does Trump plan to reinstate limits that Obama lifted on the amount of the island's coveted rum and cigars that Americans can bring home for personal use.

While the Cuban government may not have a spotless record when it comes to human rights, this is the same President Trump who just weeks ago heaped praise on perhaps the world's worst human rights abuser, Saudi Arabia. He has already pulled the United States out of a major worldwide climate treaty and is trying to scrap his predecessor's landmark healthcare program.

There's also no change to the policy allowing USA travelers to bring home an unlimited amount of Cuban rum and cigars for personal consumption. Castro's government has clearly stated it does not intend to change its one-party political system. Although the policy changes that Trump is proposing are minor, his changes and sharp rhetoric towards Cuba may anger domestic voters as well leaders throughout the hemisphere.

The ministry said Moscow stands against a policy of embargoes, sanctions and blockades, and that the USA approach over five decades had been shown to be futile.

The Cuban government, which has made clear it will not be pressured into reforms, had no immediate comment. Russia's state-owned oil company, Rosneft, announced in early-May its deal with the Cuban government to supply 250,000 tonnes of oil and diesel fuel to the nation, Reuters reports.

The U.S.is not at war with Cuba.

Moreover, it appears there's a willingness to keep in place Obama's efforts to communicate with Cuba. "We remain committed to working with all relevant parties to remove the antiquated policies that hinder the empowerment of the American and Cuban people".

"His speech was aggressive and threatening, . revealing his contempt and ignorance", President Nicolas Maduro said in a speech.

The Obama administration relaxed requirements that educational groups travel with a guide from a USA organization sponsoring the trip.

Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota believes the new policy will "hurt the United States economy, making it hard for the country's farmers to enter new markets and cutting the grass under the feet of the tourism and manufacturing industries".

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