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Andres Oppenheimer: Trump's policy changes will give new ammunition to Cuba's dictatorship

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and a clampdown on U.S. business dealings with the Caribbean island's military, saying he was cancelling former President Barack Obama's "terrible and misguided deal" liberalizing ties with Havana.

Cuban state newspaper Granma, a mouthpiece of the regime, said Trump's measures heralded "a return to the Cold War".

While most Republicans cheered the change in policy - including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who engaged in a nasty fight with Mr Trump for the Republican nomination past year - many said that the changes were a brash political play to try and attract conservative Cuban voters in Florida.

Though Trump's announcement stops short of a full reversal of the Cuba rapprochement, it targets the travel and economic engagement between the countries that has blossomed in the short time since relations were restored.

But the very same citizen to citizen diplomacy likely to be limited by the new rules has persuaded me that Cubans and Americans are more alike than they are different.

Still, Rodriguez said, the Cuban government had no intention of meeting Trump's demands, including extraditing US fugitives from justice, like convicted cop killer Assata Shakur.

The action stirred objections from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country's largest business lobbying organization, which has otherwise backed much of Trump's agenda.

Trump's claims, outlined in a presidential memo, that "t$3 he Cuban people have long suffered under a Communist regime that suppresses their legitimate aspirations for freedom and prosperity and fails to respect their essential human dignity", is laughable, coming from a U.S. government that routinely engages in torture, assassination and jailing of its political enemies, and which has built up the infrastructure of a police state beyond the dreams of the regime in Havana.

The statement says that "It's clear the anti-Cuba discourse is still widely needed".

Trump was joined on the trip by vocal critics of Obama's attempt to resume more normal relations with the communist nation. After his remarks, Trump signed an order directing the Treasury Department to make the changes.

The restrictions aim to divert support from the military regime to the Cuban people, as reported byCNBC. The group did not include US agricultural exports to Cuba in its estimates. And it may backfire, by shifting world attention away from the Cuban regime's oppression of its people to what Cuba will now claim is a new "U.S. aggression" against the island. Jeff Flake, who recently helped reintroduce the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act.

When Barack Obama announced a restoration of United States relations with Cuba in December 2014, it put an end to some 56 years of bad blood between the two neighbors.

Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota believes the new policy will "hurt the U.S. economy, making it hard for the country's farmers to enter new markets and cutting the grass under the feet of the tourism and manufacturing industries".

Carnival also said it has requested approval its other brands to travel to Cuba in the future.

Even the low end of 12,000 jobs still accounts for more jobs than the president saved with his much lauded victory over Carrier, which is speculated to have saved the USA economy between 800 and 1,100 American jobs.

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