President Trump’s national security advisor came to Miami on Wednesday to announce more get-tough measures on Cuba. But some re-tightening of Cuba policy - particularly a cutback in remittances to the island - will get more jeers than cheers from many Cuban-Americans.
At the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Ambassador John Bolton spoke to Bay of Pigs veterans on the anniversary of their failed 1961 invasion of communist Cuba – then presented more of what the Trump administration considers an invasion of economic pressure to bring down the regime there.
Slamming what he called the Obama administration's "disastrous" policies of normalized relations with Cuba - which he claimed threw the repressive Cuban government "lifelines" and enabled its "colonization" of Venezuela's authoritarian regime - Bolton said Cuban-Americans will be allowed to sue foreign companies doing business on Cuban property confiscated by the regime. Non-family visits to Cuba by U.S. citizens will again be restricted. And remittances to families in Cuba will be cut back to only $1,000 every three months. (Obama had made them unlimited.)
“I’m certain you would all agree that you do not improve relations with an imprisoned people by appeasing their captors," Bolton said. "You improve relations with the oppressed by taking an unapologetic stand against their oppressors.”
But while the more conservative Cuban exiles Bolton addressed applauded him, critics – like the large and growing bloc of more moderate Cuban-Americans – say the travel and remittance measures are also oppressive for people in Cuba.
“This is a giant step backwards," said Felice Gorordo, co-founder of Roots of Hope, a Miami NGO that works to build ties between Cubans in the U.S. and in Cuba. "These new restrictions are going to hurt ordinary Cuban people, encourage the hardliners on both sides of the Florida Straits and negatively impact entrepreneurs who rely on remittances as a lifeline to be able to make a better life for themselves and their families on the island.”
Bolton also insisted that suffocating the Cuban government will end the "glamorization of socialism and communism" and bring down the other two parts of what Trump calls the western hemisphere's "troika of tyranny," Venezuela and Nicaragua. Bolton announced new economic sanctions against their governments - including Venezuela's Central Bank, making it harder for it to access U.S. dollars - and more ships that ferry Venezuelan oil to Cuba.