Cubans de­cry US move on ties

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HA­VANA: Cubans said they were crest­fallen to be re­turn­ing to an era of frostier re­la­tions with the US as news spread that US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was set to re­vert parts of the his­toric de­tente with Cuba.

Trump is tight­en­ing rules on Amer­i­cans trav­el­ling to com­mu­nist-run Cuba and sig­nif­i­cantly restrict­ing US firms from do­ing busi­ness with Cuban en­ter­prises con­trolled by the mil­i­tary, White House of­fi­cials said.

A land­mark agree­ment twoand-a-half years ago be­tween for­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Cas­tro moved to nor­malise re­la­tions be­tween the for­mer Cold War foes.

The deal saw more US tourists thanks to eased re­stric­tion, cre­at­ing de­mand for more BnBs, restau­rants, taxis and tour guides in the fledg­ling pri­vate sec­tor.

But crit­ics say the open­ing failed to im­prove rights on the is­land. Trump will jus­tify his par­tial re­ver­sal of Obama’s measures on those grounds, the White House of­fi­cials said, and some Cuban dis­si­dents back his tougher stance, say­ing re­pres­sion had wors­ened since the de­tente.

Other dis­si­dents say rolling back the de­tente is not the so­lu­tion. “It will prob­a­bly not have any ben­e­fit in terms of hu­man rights,” said Eliecer Avila, the leader of the op­po­si­tion youth group So­mos Mas.

The Cuban gov­ern­ment has with­stood the US trade em­bargo for more than a half cen­tury and will not make any po­lit­i­cal con­ces­sions to the US due to eco­nomic pres­sure, said Car­los Alzu­garay, a re­tired Cuban diplo­mat. – Reuters

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