This week on Twitter, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to put an end to the “normalization” of US and Cuban relations initiated by President Barack Obama. “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people, and the US as a whole,” Trump wrote as news sources flooded the internet with stories about the death of the Cuban dictator, “I will terminate [the] deal.”
The following day, Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, commented on the incoming president’s threats, adding that severing the blossoming business and tourism ties between the two countries is “just not as simple as one tweet might make it seem.”
“There are significant diplomatic, economic, [and] cultural costs that will have to be accounted for if this policy is rolled back,” he added.
But despite his remarks, the Obama administration has done little to emphasize the importance of simply lifting barriers to trade between the two countries altogether, a problem that has prompted several freedom and free market advocates to say more must be done.
Cuban Fascism and Diplomatic Ties: Why America Must Trust Americans on Cuba Again
In a country where people who are born differently or who subscribe to different ideologies have been prosecuted, imprisoned, and murdered over the decades – much like US allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia – hope for Cubans used to materialize in the shape of makeshift boats sailing through the waves toward Florida.
But in December 2014, Obama and Raúl Castro, the late Cuban dictator’s younger brother, announced both countries would re-establish diplomatic ties. The move secured the reopening of the US embassy in Havana and brought Obama to call the then-ongoing policy of isolation embraced by the United States an “outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests.”
Despite his inspiring words, Obama’s approach to normalizing the countries’ relationship fell short of what could have truly given the Cuban and American people a glimpse of what freedom looks like.
Instead of spurring real change in light of Obama’s push to have Congress lift certain economic restrictions, disagreements among lawmakers led to the change and regulation of travel policies. On November 28th, commercial flights between Havana and the United States were reintroduced.
This was a move that brought hope to residents of the small island who have been radically isolated due to Cuba’s hardline policies and because of the United States’ insistence on turning its back to the individuals hurt the most by Castro’s dictatorship.