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Trump's Cuba policy reversal criticized by MN GOP congressman

Rep. Tom Emmer called the president's decision "misguided."
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President Donald Trump's rollback of U.S. ties with Cuba has been criticized by Minnesota Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, who called the decision "misguided."

Frosty relations between the two nations appeared to be thawing under the previous administration, which started lifting U.S. travel and trade restrictions toward the end of former President Barack Obama's second term.

But on Friday, President Trump announced he will roll some of these changes back, restricting non-educational travel to Cuba to tour groups (so you can't visit the country as individuals) and saying U.S. companies can't trade with Cuban businesses owned by its military and intelligence services.

Some of the loosened restrictions will stay in place – such as those allowing Cuba to export cigars to America.

Although the announcement isn't a major shift in the rules under the previous regime, CNN notes it signals a more confrontational relationship with the Raul Castro-led Cuba, with Trump saying the deal between the two nations was "totally one-sided" before pledging to "expose the crimes of the Castro regime."

Rep.Tom Emmer responds

But in a statement issued shortly after the president's speech in Miami, Minnesota 6th District Republican Rep. Tom Emmer criticized the decision, saying it's a sign that America "is returning to the failed policy of the past 55 years."

"With today’s directive, the administration is limiting our opportunities to improve the human rights and religious liberties of the Cuban people, not expanding them," he said. "This policy decision will hurt the United States economically, making it harder for our nation’s farmers to access new markets and cutting the knees out from under our travel and manufacturing industries."

"Perhaps most importantly, today’s announcement creates a very real security risk for the American people and our homeland by inviting foreign nations into our backyard to fill a void that today’s announcement is creating," he continued.

Emmer's mention of farming is a reference to one of the Minnesota industries that was expected to benefit from looser ties with Cuba, with the Pioneer Press reporting it could have doubled the $20 million-worth of agricultural exports Minnesota already sends to Cuba (exempted from trade restrictions because of humanitarian reasons).

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also played a big role in improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba, joining a bipartisan drive to lift the trade embargo with the country.

The changes to the Cuba policy won't take effect until new regulations have been issued by the Treasury Office, the government said.

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