Trump announced the partial undoing of the opening to Cuba last week:
Trump’s new policy, outlined broadly in a speech Friday, would stop individual Americans from traveling to Cuba under the so-called people-to-people exemption and ban business that directly benefits the Cuban military.
Even a partial reversal of engagement with Cuba is a mistake. The U.S. has tried punishing the Cuban government for decades, and it has neither changed the way the government behaves nor helped the Cuban people, so going back to any part of that failed policy will yield the same poor results. The bar on business that would benefit Cuba’s military almost certainly pulls the rug out from under many American companies that have already made or were planning to make significant investments in the country, and that will mean losses for American firms that didn’t have to happen. Reimposing restrictions on Americans’ ability to travel to the country is one of the least defensible moves the administration could make. This restriction punishes individual American citizens by blocking them from traveling where they wish to go, and it does Cubans no favors.
American academics, tourists, and others should not be prohibited from traveling to Cuba on their own, and in some cases doing so is the most practical way for them to go there. Interfering with that just to spite Havana creates barriers to Americans’ travel that shouldn’t exist. These measures are a sop to hard-line dead-enders that loathe diplomatic engagement and never wanted an opening to Cuba at all, and by caving once again to foreign policy hard-liners Trump has shown his own weakness and poor judgment.
The pretense that this has anything to do with the Cuban government’s abuses and violations of human rights might almost seem credible if it came from someone else, but coming from the Saudi-embracing, Sisi-praising, Duterte-admiring Trump it is an insulting and blatant exercise in hypocrisy.