US President Donald Trump says his country has no intention to lift economic sanctions against Cuba
unless Cuban people are given what he called “full political freedom.”
“As I announced before a wonderful crowd in Little Havana earlier this year, we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until it delivers full political freedom for the Cuban people,” Trump said during an event for Hispanic heritage at the White House on Friday.
“The same failed communist ideology that has brought oppression to Cuba has brought nothing but suffering and misery everywhere and everyplace it has been anywhere in the world,” he said before a cheering crowd.
The move is seen as yet another step by the Republican president to scale back his predecessor Barack Obama’s 2015 rapprochement with the Caribbean country.
Obama worked to enact several changes to Cuban policy during his tenure in the White House. He re-established diplomatic relations with Havana in 2015 and loosened some restrictions on doing business in the country.Back in June, however, Trump told Cuban-American exiles in Miami, Florida, that he was canceling the “one-sided” deal while imposing new travel and trade restrictions on the island nation.
“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump said in Miami’s Little Havana. “Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and the USA.”
Trump’s new statements follow a period of new tensions between the two sides over US claims that American diplomats in Cuba have been targeted with mysterious health attacks.
At least 21 US embassy staff have fallen ill over the past few months as a result of what Tillerson said were attacks of an unknown nature.
Those affected have exhibited physical symptoms including dizziness, headache, fatigue, hearing loss, difficulty sleeping and cognitive issues.
The problem has been so serious that the Trump White House decided last week to to cut down US embassy staff in Havana while expelling a number of Cuban embassy workers in Washington, DC, a few days later.
Meanwhile, the US State Department announced Friday that a “handful” of Americans who traveled to Cuba had “experienced symptoms similar” to the one affecting diplomats.
The Trump administration issued a travel warning for Cuba about a week ago.