President Donald Trump promised to reverse former President Barack Obama's actions to thaw relations with Cuba. Two years into his presidency, Trump has tightened U.S.-Cuba relations, but parts of what Obama did remain intact.
In a June 2017 speech in Miami, Trump laid out the policy actions his administration would take to reverse Obama's legacy on Cuba.
"The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime ... Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba," Trump said.
The administration has largely followed through.
The two most significant changes are restrictions on financial transactions with entities linked to the Cuban military, as well as limitations on travel.
In November 2017, the Trump administration released a list of 180 entities with whom financial transactions would be immediately prohibited. Those are entities that are affiliated or controlled by the military, intelligence or security services. The administration barred transactions with two dozen additional entities in November 2018.
The regulations still allow business with Cuban airports and seaports, allowing trade and travel to continue with permissible entities.
Trump has constrained the travel rules for Americans who want to visit Cuba, but most of Obama's travel opening remain in place, according to Ted Henken, Latin American studies professor at Baruch College.
Technically, Trump has limited travel to educational group trips, humanitarian projects and civil society assistance. Travelers need to keep records of their financial transactions and may be subject to audits by the Treasury Department.
"In practice, what that means is essentially that Americans have to frame their travel and check the box for 'assistance for the Cuban People' instead of the previously standard category 'people-to-people' travel," Henken said. "This change initially put a significant damper on the numbers and kinds of travel to Cuba from the United States, but things have picked up once again after the industry and travelers learned the new rules."
In fact, U.S.-based cruise ships, which can continue to visit Cuban ports of call, have seen significant growth in this area since 2016, according to Henken.
Trump's policy allows Cuban-Americans to visit family in Cuba and continue to send remittances. The Trump administration also won't restore the "wet foot, dry foot" immigration policy that Obama eliminated during his last days in office.
The U.S. embassy in Havana is staying open. However, the staffing has been significantly reduced due to health concerns.
In 2017, a wave of worrisome symptoms including headaches and nausea hit U.S. diplomats stationed in Havana. As a result, the State Department halved the number of U.S. personnel in Havana, forbade families from accompanying diplomatic personnel, limited the stay of U.S personnel in Cuba, and prohibited visits by U.S. officials to Cuba. In turn, the Cuban embassy in Washington reduced its staff.
The State Department also issued a travel warning that saw a decrease in travel to the island, according to Henken.
Between his policies and the health measures, Trump largely froze thawing relations with Cuba but did not go quite as far as his campaign rhetoric may have suggested, according to Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council's Latin American Center.
"The regulations that have been rolled out thus far are a partial rollback but not a complete rollback," Marczak said. "At the same time, there is the potential that more could come. That has had a chilling effect among many business and their desire to take a risk and invest in Cuba."
Trump's policies have limited activities in the realms of travel, diplomacy and business that were made possible under Obama but not enough to reverse Obama's Cuba policy as promised. We rate this as a Compromise.