Prensa Latina: U.S. and Cuba: Will Trump Ignore the Calls from the Majority?

Prensa Latina

Reversing the recent policies on Cuba would bring economic damage, isolation and national security problems to the United States, according to several sectors that demand that President Donald Trump maintain the rapprochement to the Caribbean island.

While press reports say that in the next few days, the Republican president will end the measures taken by his predecessor, Barack Obama, regarding Cuba, more people are calling on the new administration to continue following the path taken more than two years ago.

On December 17, 2014, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced the reestablishment of diplomatic ties, a decision that was made official in July 2015.

Since then, the two countries have signed dozens of agreements and memorandums of understanding in several sectors, as part of a process to normalize bilateral relations.

The policies implemented by the previous administration to reduce restrictions to U.S. companies interested in doing business in Cuba contributed to a significant economic growth and the creation of jobs nationwide, the coalition Engage Cuba pointed out.

According to an analysis published in early June by that organization, which promotes the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade that Washington has imposed on Cuba for more than half a century, reversing Obama's measures would cost 6.6 billion dollars to the U.S. economy.

The report noted that a change of direction would affect 12,295 jobs in the United States in the next four years.

The Republican senators John Boozman, from Arkansas; Mike Enzi, from Wyoming; and Jeff Flake, from Arizona, referred to that report, which had great repercussion on local media. Last week, the lawmakers noted the benefits that the changes on Washington's Cuba policy had brought to the United States.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump's National Security aide, Herbert McMaster, they pointed out that the normalization of relations allowed companies like Google, Carnival, Verizon, Airbnb, AT&T, Marriot and Sprint to discover new business opportunities.

Boosting economic ties is also favorable for Cubans, added the senators, who noted that Cuba is a natural market for the United States. They strongly urged to weigh carefully any reversion that would endanger the benefits earned so far.

In another letter addressed to the head of State, seven congresspeople from the Republican Party said that they were deeply concerned about reports that the U.S. administration favors a regression in the Cuba policy.

The signatories of the letter noted that taking a step back in the process would endanger the efforts to fight human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrimes and fraud.

On April 2017, over a dozen retired military officers asked McMaster to follow the path towards the normalization of bilateral ties as a way to strengthen national security interests and stability in the region.

Among the voices that recently addressed the U.S. president were more than 40 companies and associations that urged Trump to maintain and expand travels to Cuba.

The Society of Travel Agents and the Association of Tour Operators, among other institutions, told the president that a step back in that regard could lead to a significant loss of jobs in his country.

We encourage the administration to take note of the huge economic benefits and to prioritize growth and job creation when reviewing the Cuba policy, they added.

Amid these calls to Trump, two major bipartisan draft bills were submitted to the U.S. Congress to have the bans on travels and trade with Cuba lifted, 

In late May, Senator Flake introduced the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, which was cosponsored by 54 lawmakers. The act would eliminate all restrictions banning U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba as tourists.

Meanwhile, two Republican and two Democratic senators submitted the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act.

That document would derogate the current business barriers, including the original authorization of 1961 to establish the commercial blockade, and other legislations that demand the implementation of that policy.

For its part, The New York Times lamented that the rapprochement to Cuba might be added to a long list of major initiatives taken by Obama that the incumbent president is obsessed to erase.

The newspaper added that this would further isolate the United States and would damage its entrepreneurial interests.

According to the Times, a step back would show a cowardly wish to favor the conservative Republicans in Florida, who strongly oppose the Cuban Revolution.

Maybe the most important example of support for the rapprochement to Cuba is shown by a survey published by Engage Cuba on June 12, according to which more than 6 of 10 Republicans favor that path.

The survey, carried out nationwide among 1,973 people by the company Morning Consult, added that only 18 percent of those polled oppose Obama's policies.

The study showed that 64 percent of Republicans want to continue the flexibilization of travel bans and trade with Cuba, while 22 percent rejects it.

According to the survey, a move to toughen those barriers would be unpopular among Trump's Republican followers.

Coalition President James Williams noted that the overwhelming support from the U.S. people to continue the rapprochement must serve as a banner to warn the president.

Several sources noted that Trump would speak on Friday, in Miami, Florida, where he will present the results of the revision of the Cuba policy, although the White House has not confirmed it yet.

When time comes for the expected outcome, it would be informed definitely whether Trump heeded the many calls or whether, as some sources say, or ignored the voice of the majority.