When President Barack Obama opened the doors to Cuba and took on a policy unlike any president before him, businesses and those who back engagement with Cuba applauded the move.
Cuba hardliners, though, are hoping a visit from President Donald Trump on Friday will come with a return to the policies of the past.
“My expectation is that the president will begin the process of turning back some of the measures that were put in place secretly by Mr. Obama,” said Frank Calzone, Exec. Director with the Center for a Free Cuba. “Obama’s policies were negotiated with the Cuban government without advising or talking to the Congress or the American people.”
The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) at the University of Miami held a press conference calling for a more hardline approach to Cuba.
“I hope that Cuba will be put back on the list of countries that support terrorism, as long as murderers of American police officers reside in Havana,” Calzone told CBS4’s Tiani Jones.
There’s been much speculation on the administration’s approach to Cuba but businesses who’ve reaped the most from Obama’s policies are hoping a business-minded Trump will tread lightly on a complete rollback.
According to Engage Cuba, a national coalition of private companies and groups that pushed to lift the U.S.-Cuba embargo, a rollback would cost the U.S. economy $6.6 billion and more than 12,000 jobs. They say the airline industry alone would lose $2 billion and 4,000 jobs.
Airbnb finally broke their silence and released a report about their business in Cuba. The report says they’ve paid more than $40 million since April of last year to Cuban citizens who share their homes, with 58 percent of hosts consisting of women entrepreneurs.
The company said in part, “Today, more and more Cubans are entrepreneurs who are eager to start their own businesses and connect with the world. We are eager to help these hosts achieve their dreams.”
“I think he’s not, today, mostly a businessman, I think today he’s the president of the United States. I think his administration wants to carry policies in the law and the law says very specifically the resources should not be given to the Cuban government or to the Cuban military, and that’s what’s happening.”