Chipping away at Barack Obama’s legacy, US President Donald Trump cancelled his predecessor’s “one-sided” Cuba deal and put the two Cold War-era rivals on collision course again by vowing to not allow dollars to prop up Raul Castro’s “military monopoly”.
Obama had announced in December 2014 that he and Castro were restoring ties and less than a year later, the US Embassy in Havana was re-opened with the then US president making a historic visit to the Communist country in 2016.
Reversing the policy of pursuing a historic detente, Trump said, “Effective immediately, I am cancelling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba. I am announcing today a new policy just as I promised during the campaign.”
“Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America. We do not want US dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba. Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing US law,” he told a cheering crowd in Miami’s Little Havana, the spiritual home of the Cuban- American community.
In Havana, Cuba’s government criticised the new restrictions on ties with the US that were announced by Trump, but reiterated its willingness to hold a “respectful dialogue” with Washington.
Trump’s speech, which came as the president signed a directive outlining his posture toward Cuba, is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to chip away at Obama’s legacy, of which the Cuba policy of starting a historic detente was a major part.
This is the third major Obama-era accomplishment that has been reversed by Trump, who first repealed his predecessor’s signature healthcare law ‘Obamacare’ and then went on to announce US’ withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate deal.
However, Trump, in a complete reversal, asserted that he will not lift sanctions on Cuba unless it releases all political prisoners and respects freedoms.
“We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalised and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled elections,” Trump said.