Trump administration further tightens Cuba restrictions

US president seeks to court anti-Castro Cuban-Americans in must-win state of Florida

Trump administration further tightens Cuba restrictions
United States's President Donald Trump

The US will further tighten restrictions on Americans’ travel to Cuba and goods from the island nation, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday as he seeks to court the Cuban-American vote.

Trump framed the measures as "part of our continuing fight against communist oppression" and said they will prohibit the import of Cuban alcohol and tobacco and bar Americans from staying at Cuban government-owned properties if they visit the Caribbean nation.

"These actions will ensure that US dollars do not fund the Cuban regime and go directly to the Cuban people, big difference," he said during a commemoration ceremony of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in which the US sought to land Cuban exiles on the island to overthrow former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Trump was addressing members of the CIA-funded Cuban force that the US-backed in the effort, as well as their families.

The announcement comes as the president seeks to win the battleground state of Florida, which boasts a significant Cuban-American population, most of whom are Cuban exiles or their descendants who are viscerally opposed to the Cuban government.

Florida is a must-win state for Trump as he seeks to beat Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November's presidential elections. An average of polling compiled by the Real Clear Politics website has Biden leading the president in the state by a razor-thin 1.5%.

In addition, the Treasury Department said the US would also ban Americans from organizing conferences or meetings, as well as "participating in and organizing certain public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions" in Cuba.

The restrictions will become effective as soon as they are published in the Federal Register.