Tougher Trump line toward Cuba delights hardliners on island

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An AP Fact Check finds that President Donald Trump's policies on Cuba sounds a lot like President Barack Obama's old policies.

Speaking from Miami, Florida, Trump announced changes to President Obama's historic rapprochement with Cuba - fulfilling a promise to the anti-Castro voting bloc he believes helped his campaign clinch the state, but stirring fear among others he could set back business interests and Cuba's potential for a more prosperous private sector.

Anti-President Donald Trump protester chants anti-Trump slogans during the president's visit to the Manuel Artime Theater, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Miami. It also regretted "a reversal in relations between the two countries".

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci). President Donald Trump speaks about Cuba policy, Friday, June 16, 2017, in Miami.

Cuban President Raul Castro, responding to Trump's announcement, said: "Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve it through pressures and impositions, or by employing subtle methods, will be doomed to failure". The government remained willing to engage in "respectful dialogue", it said in a statement.

It was Trump's most public statement yet calling on a foreign government to improve its human rights record, one that came with specific promises to cut off United States cash flows that could support the communist regime in Havana.

Diplomatic relations restored just two years ago will remain intact and the countries will maintain embassies.

For Cubans, the shift risks stifling a nascent middle class that has started to rise as Americans have flocked to the island on airlines, patronizing thousands of private bed-and-breakfasts.

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"We are all really scared because we live from rent", said Maria Elena Reyes, 45, who rents rooms in her large house in a leafy suburb of Havana.

"When he's cutting back on travel, he's hurting us, the Cuban entrepreneurs".

Granma, the official organ of Cuba's Communist Party, described Trump's declarations in real-time blog coverage Friday as "a return to imperialist rhetoric and unilateral demands".

But the changes would ultimately meet four objectives, according to the White House: Ensure compliance with USA law, hold the Cuban government accountable for alleged human rights abuses, further the interests of the US and the Cuban people, and "empower the Cuban people to develop greater economic and political liberty".

The Cuban government has given Trump's speech extensive coverage on official media. Despite bitter criticism and personal attacks, most have continued to operate, many with a degree of support from USA individuals and foundations that would have been impossible before the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.

Dese Washington, White House sources have confirmed that the change of policy towards Cuba also includes its support for the trade and financial embargo on the island and, therefore, the frontal opposition to global requests for Congress to lift it.

Trump asserted that the USA will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country's "great, great future, a country of great potential". "But it should not be expected that to that end, Cuba will make compromises to its very sovereignty", it said. According to the Cuban Ministry, 74 percent more American citizens visited the island in 2016 than in 2015 and, following through on a pledge to Obama, Castro opened almost 400 new public Wi-Fi access points around Cuba. "All the (U.S. economic) embargo has brought upon Cuba is misery".

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