Trump’s move days before he leaves office will make it harder for President-elect Biden to reset relations with Cuba.
The administration of President Joe Biden will review US policy on Cuba, the White House said on Thursday, after former President Donald Trump rolled back a historic Obama-era detente with Havana during his tenure.
“Our Cuba policy is governed by two principles. First, support for democracy and human rights – that will be at the core of our efforts. Second is Americans, especially Cuban Americans, are the best ambassadors for freedom in Cuba. So we’ll review the Trump administration policies,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing.
Trump, a Republican, clamped down on Cuba after taking office in 2017, tightening restrictions on US travel and remittances to Cuba, and imposing sanctions on shipments of Venezuelan oil to the island.
The policy was popular among the large Cuban-American population in South Florida, helping Trump win the state in November though he lost the election to Democrat Biden.
Nine days before Trump left office, his administration announced on January 11 it was returning Cuba to the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that could complicate Biden’s efforts to revive improved relations with the Communist-run nation.
A top official in Cuba told Reuters last week that the island nation is hopeful that Biden will swiftly reverse his predecessor’s hardline approach and resume the policy of detente begun by the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2015.
Removing Cuba from the blacklist had been one of Obama’s main foreign policy achievements as he sought to improve relations with the island, an effort which Biden as his vice president at the time, endorsed. Ties had been essentially frozen after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.