President Donald Trump plans to ban U.S. businesses from dealing with Cuba’s military establishment, a sprawling enterprise with links to virtually every aspect of the country’s economy.
The move immediately raised questions about whether the policy shift would benefit Trump’s own businesses.
Trump, in a prepared directive released to news agencies, also planned to announce tougher travel restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba. Trump was scheduled to speak in Miami on Friday.
The directive said diplomatic relations re-established by former President Barack Obama, including reopened embassies in Washington and Havana, will remain.
Travel and money sent by Cuban Americans will be unaffected, but Americans will be unable to spend money in state-run hotels or restaurants tied to the military, which the Miami Herald called “a significant prohibition.”
Will Trump Restrictions Benefit His Businesses?
“The Cuban people have long suffered under a Communist regime that suppresses their legitimate aspirations for freedom and prosperity and fails to respect the essential human dignity of all Cubans,” said Trump’s directive.
Trump's changes in Cuba policy include prohibiting "financial transactions, including transactions incidental to travel with GAESA and its affiliates, subsidiaries, and successors," CNN reported.
Gaviota, the tourism arm of the government-run GAESA, currently operates the Four Points by Sheraton Havana. GAESA controls big chunks Cuba’s economy and is run by Gen. Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, Raul Castro's son-in-law.
Even Americans traveling legally to Cuba, according to the new Trump policy, would not be able to stay in any hotel connected to the Cuban military, including, presumably, the Four Points by Sheraton in Havana.
Trump has said in the past that he wants to open a hotel in Cuba, but wouldn’t while he was president. But the decision to prohibit business with GAESA and funnel tourists to private companies hurts the Sheraton, which would be a Trump competitor in Cuba, CNN noted.
It could be seen as stopping Trump’s resorts competitors from getting a head start on Cuba.
Details Still Sketchy
The U.S. Treasury Department is expected to flesh out the details of the plan. White House officials told reporters on Thursday that the new regulations would not affect current licenses for hotels and was not meant to "disrupt existing transactions that have (already) occurred."
Cruises and flights to Cuba would not be affected.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) told the Miami Herald that the policy was a strategic, long-term attempt to force aging Cuban military and intelligence officers to ease their grip on the island’s economy as a younger generation of leaders prepares to take over.
Related Link: Potential Losers If Trump Terminates Cuba Ties
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