It’s been about 2 years since President Obama and President Raul Castro made concurrent announcements in their countries about the beginning of Normalization between our two countries. I agree with most Cuba experts, who say that there has been more significant change in Cuba in the last 2 years than in the last 2 decades.
And yet, President-elect Trump has threatened to reverse President Obama’s efforts to restore diplomatic relations. I’ve received many inquiries from people who are considering traveling to Cuba next year. Many are concerned that tours will be cancelled, or that they won’t be able to make arrangements to visit Cuba. Many articles have recently been published in newspapers, in magazines, and online—bringing up concerns about what would happen if there is a reversal of Obama’s policies.
In my humble opinion, I believe that these changes will not be reversed. In fact, the pace of change will probably accelerate, because of the death of Fidel. In the last 2 years, there have been billions of dollars spent on Cuba by American communications companies, airlines, travel companies, cruise ships, food producers/distributors, research companies, and numerous other private entities. Dozens of mostly Republican governors and congressmen have made multiple trips to Cuba in the past year to sign complicated trade deals. They represent some of the most conservative areas of the country—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas.
It is well known that most Democrats have supported Normalization. It is not commonly known that polls show that a significant majority of Republicans also support it. Some of the most conservative Republicans have stated that Normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S. is one of the few Obama programs they approve of. The majority of Cuban-Americans in south Florida approve. An overwhelming majority of those Cuban-Americans under 50 years of age approve.
Just about every Republican who has been to Cuba approves of Normalization. The ones who don’t approve have never been there. Two good examples are Cuban-American Senators and former presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. They were born in Miami and Calgary, Canada, respectively. They have never been to Cuba. All they apparently know about Cuba was told to them by their parents, who probably described Cuba in the 1950’s. They reinforce their beliefs by referring to articles written by others who have likewise never been to Cuba. Yet for some bizarre reason, Rubio and Cruz seem to be the first ones interviewed about issues concerning Cuba.
It is also interesting that early in their political careers, both said their parents escaped “Castro’s Communist Hell” to move to a free country. Unfortunately, fact-checkers pointed out that their parents left Cuba before the Revolution succeeded—when Fidel Castro was not taken seriously by anybody. He was widely considered to be just another crazy bearded guy hiding in the remote mountains of eastern Cuba. Rubio’s parents left in 1956; Cruz’s parents left in 1957. Cruz’s father was imprisoned and tortured by Batista, who fled the country after Castro took over. I’m sure that older Cuban-Americans who actually fled Castro’s Cuba didn’t appreciate their misleading comments.
So I don’t think President Trump will reverse anything regarding Normalization, except for perhaps some item temporarily to call attention to a particular issue. He and his staff will have to deal with much more significant international issues than Normalization with Cuba. And now that Fidel Castro has died, his more-progressive brother Raul will likely push the Cuban government to move even faster.
To read an interesting and informative article about a Conservative Republican Cuban-American and his views, please click on: