President Donald Trump on Friday ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and a clampdown on USA business dealings with the Castro regime.
"The government of Cuba denounces the new measures toughening the embargo" imposed since 1962, according to a statement read on state television yesterday.
Laying out his new Cuba policy in a speech in Miami, Trump signed a presidential directive rolling back parts of Obama's historic opening to the Communist-ruled country after a 2014 diplomatic breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes.
It analyzes the virtues of Obama's approach, which had recognized Cuba's independence, sovereignty and self-determination, and the Cuban government in a civilized coexistence relationship.
It said Trump was resorting to "coercive methods of the past" that hurt the Cuban people, but would not weaken the revolution.
"Any strategy meant to change the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it is a strategy that tries to achieve so through pressures or the use of more subtle methods, will be condemned to fail", it said.
"President Trump's policy makes itself, once again, part of the old policy of pressure and strangulation of the Cuban people", founders Lenier Gonzalez and Roberto Veiga wrote Saturday.
This process culminated in significant economic opportunities for both the USA and Cuba.
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Since taking over the running of the country just over a decade ago, Castro has been gradually expanding the private sector and trying to open up the country to foreign businesses. He had advanced this Friday and Trump himself has ratified it in a speech in Miami, the capital of Cuban exiles in the United States.
In his statement, Flake called for the Senate's GOP leadership to allow a vote on his legislation that he said would eliminate "archaic restrictions" on travel to Cuba that "do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world".
Pointing to human rights abuses, Trump said, "My administration will not hide from it, excuse it, or glamorize it and we will never ever be blind to it".
In essence, Mr. Trump's announcement on Friday allowed him to claim fulfillment of a campaign promise, while leaving a vast portion of the Obama policies intact.
The Cuban government maintained that the new policies would not work, comparing it to the economic embargo that never ushered the Castro regime out of power as the US had hoped. Trump cast that as a sign the US still wanted to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much stronger and better path".
The Castro government is certain to reject Trump's list of demands, which includes releasing political prisoners, halting what the USA says is abuse of dissidents and allowing greater freedom of expression.
While Castro acknowledged that changes in Cuba were necessary, pointing to the ongoing process of modernising and developing the island's economic and socialist model, he insisted that Cuba would decide its own fate independent of foreign influence.
Experts say travelers may simply use the "support for the Cuban people" category instead, depending on how broadly the authorities interpret that going forward. Cuban-Americans will be able to continue to visit their family in Cuba and send them remittances.
Among the few Cubans on the island who praised Trump was Berta Soler, a leader of the dissident group Ladies in White who said she was prevented by the government from flying to Miami to attend the speech in person.