FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump Turns His Back on a Future With Cuba

by

In his perverse fixation on overturning all things Barack Obama, President Donald Trump now turns his attention to Cuba, the island located 90 miles off our shore. Reports are that the president plans to travel to Florida to announce that he will reverse Obama’s opening to Cuba, reinstate restrictions on the right of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba and curtail business opportunities that Obama had opened up by executive order.

This is, in a word, ridiculous. The United States maintained an economic embargo on Cuba for more than 50 years. It plotted repeatedly to assassinate Fidel Castro and to overthrow his regime. It painted Cuba as a terrorist nation for its support of Nelson Mandela in the fight against apartheid. For more than five decades, a succession of U.S. presidents — cowed by the right-wing Cuban community in Florida — enforced an economic embargo even though the policy increasingly isolated the U.S. from its neighbors in the hemisphere and its allies across the world. When Obama finally went forward with a limited opening, he was doing more to end the isolation of the U.S. than of Cuba.

Now Castro, the leader of Cuba’s revolution, is dead. His brother Raul has announced he will leave office next year. The Soviet Union is no more; the Cold War is over. A new generation is coming to power in Cuba and a new generation of Cuban-Americans is rising in Florida. The vast majority of Americans and the vast majority of Cuban-Americans support free travel to Cubans.

So why would Trump want to revive the failed policies of the past? The reasons range from the petty to the perverse. Trump’s hatred of Obama is apparent. From Obamacare to climate policy to Cuba, he seems intent on overturning whatever Obama did — no matter how great the cost to the American people.

In the campaign, Trump pledged in Florida to overturn Obama’s opening. Right-wing Cuban-American legislators — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida — have lobbied Trump hard to revive the travel ban and embargo. According to the New York Times, Diaz-Balart exacted a promise from Trump as a price for his vote in favor of Trumpcare. He signed off on depriving 23 million Americans of health care coverage in order to tighten the screws on Cuba.

Obama’s policy of engagement, however halting, has already shown results. Engage Cuba, a U.S. business lobby group, published an economic impact analysis on the costs of reversing Obama’s policy. It put the cost at as much as $3.5 billion in lost revenues and 10,000 jobs lost in the travel industry over the next four years. Commercial contracts that will create $1.1 billion worth of U.S. exports to Cuba in the next five years would be broken, costing more than 1,000 jobs a year.

Once more the right of Americans to travel would be sacrificed, in the name of what? Petulance? Perversity? Undying hatred? The Trump administration has made it clear that in its America First foreign policy, America’s economic and security concerns will not be sacrificed in the name of human rights. But it rationalizes its reversion in Cuba on the grounds of defending human rights and spreading democracy. This is at best what former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes called a “tragic irony,” given the Trump administration’s “complete lack of concern for human rights around the world.”

Surely, after more than five decades we have learned that Cubans, proud of their revolution and their independence, will resist economic or military coercion. One would think that Trump, who trumpets his business background, would understand that open relations with Cuba — trade, travel, human and cultural exchange — will have far more impact in generating pressure for change than a reversion to the failed embargo.

Under Castro, Cuban education and health care became the envy of Latin America. An educated generation now rises to power yearning for more. The U.S. should engage them, not seek to isolate them.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

CounterPunch Magazine


bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
August 18, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Cesar Chelala
What Trump Can Learn From Ants
Ryan Summers
Breitbart, the Alt-Right and Charlottesville
Louis Proyect
Digital Dystopias
Charles R. Larson
Review: Lawrence P. Jackson’s “Chester B. Himes”
August 17, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Story of Charlottesville Was Written in Blood in the Ukraine
Tim Messer Messer-Kruse
Right But Wrong: Trump’s Defense of Confederate Symbols and Its Threat to Color-Blind Liberalism
George Barbarie
Barbarian Left
Ramzy Baroud
Al-Araqeeb Village: Palestinian Bedouins Refuse to Surrender 116 Times
Jerome L. Schulman, M.D.
The State of Trump’s Brain
John W. Whitehead
Chaos in Charlottesville: No One Gave Peace a Chance, Including the Police
Michael J. Sainato
Monuments to Treason
Rob Seimetz
When Illusion Turns to Delusion 
Thomas Knapp
@YesYoureRacist Crowdsources Social Preferencing
Binoy Kampmark
Breaking the Seal: Child Abuse and the Confessional
Ann Garrison – KJ Noh
Locked and Loaded: War With North Korea Cannot be Contained But Must Be Prevented
David Macaray
Union Elections
Susan Block
The Fire and Fury of the Tiki Torches
August 16, 2017
John Eskow
Among the Racists
John Wight
Charlottesville: Outrage, Hypocrisy & Obama’s Betrayal
Michael Hudson
Putting an End to the Rent Economy
Ralph Nader
The 16 Year War in Afghanistan: Headlines Tell the Story
Mateo Pimentel
Our Fight Against Fascism 
Robert Fantina
Trump and Charlottesville
Ted Rall
If You Fire a Fascist, You’re a Fascist
Joe Ware
Does Game of Thrones Contain a Stark Warning About Climate Change?
Ezra Kronfeld
The Global Controversiality of Surrogacy
Jesse Jackson
After Charlottesville
Michael J. Sainato
The Racism at Charlottesville is a Symptom of a Nation Built on White Supremacy
Franklin Lamb
Israel’s 6th War on Lebanon: What Price Will Hezbollah Pay?
Ana Portnoy
The Tragedy of the Missing C: The (Colonial) Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
August 15, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Fascism Here We Come: the Rise of the Reactionary Right and the Collapse of “The Left”
Paul Gottinger
Despite Media’s Claims, North Korea Can’t Strike Continental US
John Davis
Holocausts R Us
Rev. William Alberts
Religion: a Source of Solidarity or Division?
Ellen Isaacs
Racism and Capitalism: the Barriers to Decent Health Care
Bill Quigley
Social Justice Quiz 2017: Children – Ten Questions
David Swanson
Top 10 Misconceptions About Charlottesville
Michael J. Sainato
‘Bernie Bros’ and ‘Alt-Left’ Are Propaganda Terms Meant to Disempower
Jon Rawski
A Dangerous Nuclear Ignorance 
Priti Gulati Cox
India Celebrates Democracy, Kashmir Cries Hypocrisy
Sean Stinson
Fire and Fury: Six Places the US Could Invade That Aren’t North Korea
Nyla Ali Khan
Dispelling Nostalgic Nationalist Myths
August 14, 2017
Richard Moser
White Skin Privilege
Shamus Cooke
Trump Versus the Venezuelan Revolution
Abbe Mowshowitz
Gone Are the Ties That Bind: We All Live in a Cut-and-Paste World
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail