President Trump will travel to the Cuban-American enclave of Miami on June 16 to unveil changes to the U.S. policy toward Cuba, and the modifications are expected to reverse some of the openings that former president Barack Obama enacted in 2014.
Trump threatened during his presidential campaign to completely terminate Obama's opening, which re-established diplomatic relations between the Cold War foes after more than 50 years of isolation. Over the following two years, the Obama administration created new openings for Americans to travel to the long-isolated island, for U.S. businesses to operate in the communist nation and for Cubans to visit the U.S.
A government official briefed on Trump's changes who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the president's plans didn't expect Trump to completely shut off the opening.
The embassies that were reopened in Havana and Washington will likely remain open, and the governments are expected to continue working on a variety of diplomatic issues. Cuba experts believe Trump will focus on smaller changes that will make it more difficult for Americans to travel to Cuba and for U.S. businesses to do business directly with the Cuban government.
Whatever the changes look like, it will be a departure from Obama's strategy of engagement. His administration argued that 50 years of diplomatic isolation had done nothing to end the rule of Fidel Castro, who died in December, and that engaging and empowering Cuban citizens was a more effective way of getting the communist government to change its ways.
Obama punctuated his opening by becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the island in nearly a century, a trip that featured a speech that was carried live across Cuba, a meeting with Cuban dissident leaders and a joint appearance at a baseball game with Cuban President Raúl Castro.
Trump repeatedly bashed Obama's efforts to work more closely with Cuba, saying he could have gotten a better deal for the U.S. and vowing to renegotiate the deal. Critics of Obma's opening, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., both Cuban-Americans, have pushed Trump to shut it back down, arguing that the U.S. got nothing in return for its efforts and that Cuba continues to detain political prisoners and consistently violate the human rights of Cubans.