Trump im­poses new sanc­tions to woo Florida vot­ers

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Dar­lene Su­perville Dar­lene Su­per ville is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

WASH­ING­TON — Amer­i­cans won’t be al­lowed to bring home cigars and rum from Cuba un­der mea­sures Pres­i­dent Trump an­nounced Wed­nes­day to fi­nan­cially starve the is­land’s govern­ment, a move taken as he tries to boost his ap­peal among Cuban­amer­i­cans, a cru­cial vot­ing bloc in the bat­tle­ground state of Florida.

The ac­tion comes as the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent reaf­firmed his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “iron­clad sol­i­dar­ity” with the Cuban peo­ple, whose de­scen­dants in the U.S. of­ten vote for the GOP. It also comes as Trump con­sid­ers a Cuban Amer­i­can from Florida for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

At a White House cer­e­mony rec­og­niz­ing nearly two dozen vet­er­ans of the failed Bay of Pigs in­va­sion of Cuba in 1961, Trump said U.S. trav­el­ers will also be pro­hib­ited from stay­ing at ho­tels and other prop­er­ties owned by the Cuban govern­ment.

The list names 433 ho­tels and prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing some “casas par­tic­u­lares” (pri­vate rentals) that the State Depart­ment de­ter­mined were not in­de­pen­dent of the govern­ment.

Trump said the new steps an­nounced by the Trea­sury Depart­ment will en­sure that U.S. dol­lars do not fund the Cuban govern­ment, but go di­rectly to the ev­ery­day Cubans.

“To­day we reaf­firm our iron­clad sol­i­dar­ity with the Cuban peo­ple and our eter­nal con­vic­tion that free­dom will pre­vail over the sin­is­ter forces of com­mu­nism and evil in many dif­fer­ent forms,” the pres­i­dent said. “To­day we de­clare Amer­ica’s un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to a free Cuba.”

The new re­stric­tions are the lat­est in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­fort to re­in­state an eco­nomic block­ade of Cuba and re­verse the strat­egy of restor­ing diplo­matic re­la­tions with the is­land, the pol­icy that was pur­sued by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Cuban­amer­i­cans are a cru­cial vot­ing bloc in Florida, a state crit­i­cal to Trump’s re­elec­tion prospects.

Repub­li­cans have long dom­i­nated with these vot­ers, who are known for a col­lec­tive dis­like of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy, a Demo­crat, over the Bay of Pigs in­va­sion. The mis­sion failed to meet its goal of top­pling the com­mu­nist govern­ment of Cuba’s Fidel Cas­tro.

Trump rec­og­nized the Bay of Pigs vet­er­ans at the White House in Novem­ber 2019, but Wed­nes­day’s cer­e­mony was held as Trump has pub­licly talked up Bar­bara Lagoa, a U.S. ap­peals court judge of Cuban de­scent, as a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to the late Supreme Court Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg.

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