HAVANA, Cuba– US-Cuban relations, said to have been “thawing” during the Obama Administration, may freeze back over during President Trump’s.
In the past eight years, President Barack Obama announced a full restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, a reopening of the US Embassy in Havana, a loosening of travel restrictions and financial exchange, as well as a rather hush hush prisoner exchange–all by executive order. This means all Obama’s new policies can also be repealed by President Donald Trump’s executive order.
Loosened travel restrictions have prompted a 17% increase in Cuban tourism, now dominated by US travelers. Cuban industry responded with the construction of several new hotels, golf courses, and attractions. Likewise, many locals are now making a living off street-side shops and small tourist restaurants. Many US ports even have trade deals in the works. But unfortunately for many, the island’s booming new industry could find itself in danger should the travel ban be reinstated.
US-Cuban relations are in limbo during the first few months of the Trump Administration as we await the US’s decision.
Meanwhile, Cuban President Raul Castro has publicized his intent “to pursue a respectful dialogue and cooperation on topics of common interest with the new government of President Donald Trump,” but President Trump is hesitant to allow open relations.
Many US officials are concerned with Obama’s unwarranted changes, and there’s great concern that open relations benefit Cuban government over its people.
Additionally, Trump says he’s concerned about human rights abuses like human trafficking and the safety of Cuba’s people under the Castro Regime. He also wants religious and political freedom for Cuban citizens, and the release of political prisoners. Trump says he will have to reverse Obama’s executive orders if he can’t negotiate a “better deal” for the Cuban people.
For now, Cuba must await Trump’s first move.