At the United Nations, the Trump administration has closed another door to diplomacy with Cuba. On Wednesday, the U.S. voted against a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. trade embargo.
The action reverses a move by the Obama White House in 2016 to abstain from the annual vote. CGTN’s Michael Voss reports from Havana on how the change in policy is already having an impact.
Niuris Higueras owns one of Havana’s leading upscale private restaurants. The first time we filmed here in 2015, the majority of El Atelier’s clientele came from the United States. Getting a table meant booking in advance. Now, as U.S. President Donald Trump’s cracks down on Cuba, that has all changed.
“We have seen over 80-percent of reservations cancelled,” Higueras said, “and this not only affects this sector which is directly involved in giving services to tourism, but the entire private sector network.”
When then U.S. President Barack Obama made his historic visit to Cuba in 2015, there was an agreement with Cuba’s President Raul Castro to restore diplomatic relations. Many Cubans hoped for a brighter future.
“I have come to bury the last remnants of the Cold War,” Obama said at the time. He then eased restrictions on Americans visiting the island and opened the door for some trade and investment. U.S. airlines now offer scheduled commercial flights and cruise ships sail here from Miami.
But this new found detente didn’t last long. Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until it delivers full political freedom for the Cuban people.”
Last year, more than 600,000 U.S. and Cuban-American travelers visited Cuba. That has already started to go into reverse.
The Trump administration recently issued a travel warning for Americans not to visit the island and withdrew most of its diplomats from its embassy in Havana. It also expelled 15 Cubans from their embassy in Washington. This follows alleged sonic attacks which apparently caused hearing loss and other health problems to U.S. diplomats.
Washington remains isolated internationally over its trade embargo against Cuba, with many other countries looking for trade and investment opportunities here before American companies are allowed to compete.