MIAMI, Florida – In the middle of the day on June 16, 2017, President Donald Trump gave a speech in the most populous area of Cuban-Americans to unveil his new Cuban policy. In the speech, he detailed a plan to eventually bring freedom to an oppressed Cuban populace:
President Donald Trump’s Cuba Policy Limits Economic Transactions with Cuba’s Military
The Cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s Cuba Policy is completely banning any financial transactions with the many branches of the military-linked corporation GAESA. The Grupo de Administración Empresarial, President Trump says, attempts to control all profitable sectors of Cuba’s economy.
Instead of dealing with the “obstacle to the Cuban people’s prosperity and economic freedom,” President Trump is limiting all legal transactions with Cubans to the private business sector. Due to Cuba’s communist central government, much of the economy bases off government entities at the expense of the disproportionately-small private sector.
With this ban of business dealings with government-run financial organizations, President Trump is attempting to encourage a freer economy that Cuban citizens have not experienced since the Communist takeover by Fidel Castro in the mid-20th century.
Since that Communist takeover in 1961, the island nation has seen its economic freedom level drop to its current #178 ranking in the World. The Economic Freedom Index, which measures the chances of one’s prosperity without government, gave Cuba such a low score due to its “bloated government sector” and “tight government control.”
Institutes a Travel Ban – but not the one you are thinking about
President Donald Trump’s Middle East Travel Ban garners much of the media attention most days, but President Trump plans to institute another Travel Ban – this time involving Cuba. But unlike his Middle East ban, the Cuba ban attempts to limit the number of people who can leave the country and enter Cuba.
President Trump’s Cuba travel ban will strictly enforce the 12 authorized categories allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba. The list of 12 categories clearly state the situations in which you do not need to apply for a license to visit Cuba.
President Trump’s new strict enforcement would force as potential traveler to travel to the island nation with an American-run tour group, unlike the former policy that gave tourists freedom to travel alone, book their own hotels, and eat at their choice of restaurants. However, those travelling for academic reasons and those visiting family members in Cuba are exempt from the travel ban.
President Donald Trump’s Cuba Policy also forces these tour groups to design daylong itineraries that would expose the harsh lifestyles of typical Cuban citizens. To put this into perspective, most Cubans only make about $20 a month (but do “enjoy” a range of government subsidies).
Reaffirms the Cuban Embargo
Enacted during the Cold War, the Cuban Embargo is a “commercial, economic, and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba.” Called “el bloqueo” (“the blockade in Spanish) in Cuba, the embargo was imposed due to a combination of Cuba’s communist government and its support of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The main points of the Cuban embargo are not much different from the first two points of this article, as the embargo limits the types of business deals companies can make with their Cuban counterparts and limits travel to the island.
However, this move did not come without opposition from the opposite party. Democratic operatives argue that keeping the embargo hurts Cuba’s citizens more than it hurts the government and has failed to achieve its main goals: creating better living conditions for the citizens. While all of this may be true, the main argument for the embargo is that Cuba has not remotely attempted to improve their citizens’ lives.
Cancels President Obama’s “One-Sided” Deal
Ever since former President Barack Obama entered politics, he believed the Cuban Embargo was not achieving the goals it was meant to achieve: increased human rights for Cuban citizens and ease the stringent government-run economy that impoverished many Cubans. During his eight-year Presidency, President Obama worked with the communist Cuban government in improving the relations between the two nations the lives of the citizens of the island.
In 2011, President Obama lifted restrictions on travelling to the nation and sending remittances to family in Cuba. However, only a small portion of the embargo was lifted by Obama at that time, as he did not believe the Cuban government made enough strides to improving the lives of their people to justify lifting more of the embargo.
Finally, President Barack Obama announced that the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba in 2014, a decision that was largely discussed in a private meeting between the two nations and Canada. The landmark decision resulted in the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana and led to President Obama’s visit to Cuba, the first of such since 1928.
However, President Trump is keeping many of the policies enacted by President Obama during Mr. Obama’s presidency. For one, he is keeping the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allows those who reach the United States to stay and eventually become a citizen. In addition, he is allowing the U.S. embassy in Havana to keep its doors open and operate as a diplomatic center for the two differing nations.
Promises to keep Sanctions until Cuba
President Donald Trump made one promise to the American citizens as well Cuban officials: as long as the Cuban government fails to help their own people, all of the aforementioned sanctions will remain in place.
“With God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve.” President Trump wants the Cuban people to enjoy many of the freedoms Americans take for granted: free speech (speech is suppressed under the Community law, dissenters are typically thrown in jail), respecting human life, and promoting fair law throughout the nation.
But with the ruthless Castro family and their Communist beliefs still in power, economic sanctions may not be a compelling enough action to get the historically rigid leaders to begin the process of making their country what it was before they took power: a prospering, free nation.