Russia says Trump is using 'Cold War rhetoric' on Cuba

Miami. The president announced changes to Obama-era Cuba policy and challenged the Castro government to negotiate a better deal

The Cuban government on Friday denounced U.S. President Donald Trump's new measures to tighten the blockade on the island as a setback in U.S. Cuban-Americans can still send money to relatives and travel to the island without restriction. But some in the Miami neighbourhood of Little Havana welcomed the move.

"The Cuban regime will always find an excuse to blame the US government", she said.

MIAMI (AP) - The Cuban government is rejecting what it calls President Donald Trump's hostile rhetoric.

MIAMI (AP) - Pressing "pause" on a historic detente, President Donald Trump thrust the US and Cuba back on a path toward open hostility with a blistering denunciation of the island's communist government. However, he says the USA will maintain key diplomatic and commercial links with Cuba.

"If you want Cuba to change and reform, we are doing the opposite of what would be most likely to bring about reforms", said Ben Rhodes, a former Obama aide who helped negotiate rapprochement.

Former President Barack Obama's 2014 declaration of detente with Cuba prompted hundreds of islanders to launch media, entrepreneurship and cultural projects that were outside control of the state but within the bounds of law, unlike the directly confrontational tactics of Cuba's small dissident groups. Despite bitter criticism and personal attacks, most have continued to operate, many with a degree of support from US individuals and foundations that would have been impossible before the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. -Cuban relations, but said it remained willing to continue "respectful dialogue". Trump also directed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to convene a task force on expanding Internet access on the island and reiterated the United States' opposition to efforts in the United Nations to lift the Cuban embargo until more is done to honor human rights.

But, facing pressure from U.S. businesses and even some fellow Republicans to avoid turning back the clock completely in relations with Cuba, the president chose to leave intact some of his Democratic predecessor's steps toward normalisation. The policy bans most financial transactions with a yet-unreleased list of entities associated with Cuba's military and state security, including a conglomerate that dominates much of Cuba's economy, such as many hotels, state-run restaurants and tour buses.

Under the revised travel policy, USA officials say there will be tighter enforcement to make sure Americans legally fit the 12 authorized categories they claim to be traveling under, which could spook many visitors, wary of receiving a hefty fine. This will essentially shield USA airlines and cruise lines serving the island.

The Castro government is certain to reject Trump's list of demands, which includes releasing political prisoners, halting what the US says is abuse of dissidents and allowing greater freedom of expression. In practice, however, many recent changes to boost ties to Cuba will stay as they are.

Trump based his partial reversal of Obama's Cuba measures largely on human rights grounds.

It rejects -it stresses- "the manipulation for political ends and the double standard in treating the human rights issue".

Trump, however, stopped short of breaking diplomatic relations restored in 2015 after more than five decades of hostilities.

The administration, according to one White House official, has no intention of "disrupting" existing business ventures such as one struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels Inc, which is owned by Marriott International Inc, to manage a historic Havana hotel.

Still, it will be the latest attempt by Trump to overturn parts of Obama's presidential legacy.

Trump listens to Cuban violinist Luis Haza play the US National Anthem at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami, Florida. The Cuban government has made clear it will not be pressured into reforms in exchange for further engagement with Washington. "I'd print a copy for every Cuban", said Iroel Sanchez, a pro-government columnist and blogger who was fiercely critical of Obama. Castro's government has clearly stated it does not intend to change its one-party political system.

In a statement read out on the evening news, the Communist government said Trump was resorting to "coercive methods of the past" that hurt the Cuban people and prevented economic development but would not weaken the revolution.

"It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration's bad and misguided deal with the Castro regime", Trump said.

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