President Donald Trump is taking a victory lap, boasting that he’d kept his promises on Cuba.
“Last year, I promised to be a voice against repression. In our region, remember tremendous repression and a voice for the freedom of the Cuban people. You heard that pledge. You exercised the right you have to vote. You went out and you voted, and here I am like I promised,” Trump said to a packed theater in Little Havana, Miami, on Friday where Cuban exiles and residents largely supported his candidacy.
Well, did he?
The president says so: “Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”
But the White House’s plans leave many of the Obama-era policies in place.
It restricts American travel — the privately-organized educational and cultural visits by Americans without specific permission from the government are out, with more restrictive group trips are back in — but it doesn’t stop airlines and cruise ships from going to the island, as Obama first allowed. Obama also ended the controversial "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allowed Cubans who reached the shore of the U.S. to seek permanent residency here, and Trump did not change that.
Corporations can still do business with the island — except for the parts controlled by the military or its intelligence and security services — and the diplomatic ties will continue and the U.S. Embassy in Havana will remain open. Cuban-Americans can still travel freely and send remittances home, as well.
The executive order Trump signed calls on the Treasury Department to write up new restrictions, and the Washington Post reports that the policy remains unwritten, with actual changes months away before being implemented.
While the president promised a hard-line approach to Cuba, his policy changes so far haven't delivered; instead, he's staked out a middle-ground territory between hard-liners and Democrats who supported thawing relations.