Pictures of Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro hang on a wall as tourists ride in a vintage car in downtown Havana, Cuba, June 16, 2017. Photo by Reuters

The Cuban government has denounced US President Donald Trump’s new measures to tighten the blockade on the island as a setback in US-Cuban relations, but said it remained willing to continue “respectful dialogue.”

Only a year ago, the US and Cuba were embarking on a new era of friendship. Now that seems to have been put on hold.

In a statement read out on the evening news, the Cuban government said Trump was resorting to “coercive methods of the past” that hurt the Cuban people and prevented economic development but would not weaken the revolution.

“The Cuban government denounces the new measures hardening the blockade that are destined to fail … and that will not achieve their aim of weakening the revolution,” the statement said.

When former US president Barack Obama visited Cuba last year, it signalled a landmark moment in both his presidency and the history of US-Cuba relations by bringing 50 years of hostility and mistrust to end.

But during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump called Obama’s policy change “a bad deal.”

Trump’s tougher approach will prevent US dollars from being used to fund Cuba’s government. It will also enforce stricter bans on Americans travelling there as tourists – a policy that will have major ramifications.

Yuri Barroso, a private bar promoter in Havana, is one of many who will be directly affected. “Eighty-five percent of our clients are Americans,” Barroso says. “Now, if Trump decides to reduce how many come in for tourism, it will create chaos.”

TRT World