Trump slams door shut on travel to Cuba, frustrating young soccer players in Chicago

CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - President Trump is slamming shut the door to Cuba that President Obama opened three years ago.  Now, the only people who can freely travel there will be Cuban-Americans.

It's a victory for hard-line, anti-Castro forces in Florida, a swing state Trump narrowly carried last year, but the move upset some kids playing soccer in Chicago on Friday. They have been planning to visit Cuba for two years now; their interest started when then-President Obama was reestablishing diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations. A soccer-oriented tour for 25 kids from the near south side seemed to fit right in. Now, they are not sure.

"Now there's a big black cloud over this opportunity," said Tina Feldstein of KICS Chicago.

It will take more than three months for the Trump administration to write and post new regulations. They will not apply to Cuban-Americans, who will still enjoy unlimited tourism and be able to spend as much as they want. But other Americans will face major new complications if they visit Cuba. The president plans to prohibit payments to any entity linked to the Cuban military, which includes almost all hotels, tour buses, gas stations and even convenience stores.

Trump complained the recent surge of American visitors has benefited Cuba's repressive rulers.  It also poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Cuba's growing, non-communist, private sector, such as small restaurants and bed-and-breakfast businesses.  Adults on the Chicago KICS trip had hoped to meet some Cuban entrepreneurs.

"I like to see people around the world learning about each other versus fighting with each other," said Scott Hanlon. "I think soccer like this offers a great opportunity to speak a common language."

Ultimately, the folks at KICS Chicago hope the players they'll be competing against in Cuba will come here next year.  They have fingers crossed that the American and Cuban governments will both sign off  on that.  

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