President Donald Trump announced tighter restrictions on Cuba for U.S. travelers and businesses. Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise to reverse former President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with the country. He and other Cuba hardliners believe the U.S. should not work with a repressive communist regime. Others think it's time to normalize relations with Cuba entirely. The Cold War is over and communism lost -- it's time to move on. What do you think?
Trump says American dollars should not go to the Cuban regime. This means U.S. travelers are banned from going to the island and businesses are barred from engaging with their Cuban counterparts. Trump says "we have no choice" other than to stand up against the Cuban regime. The Cuban people are being oppressed by their government. This is about standing up for human rights.
"A defensible US Cuba policy is one that supports the Cuban people with as little support to the regime as possible," said Jose R. Cardenas, former USAID acting assistant administrator for Latin America, in an opinion piece in Foreign Policy. Cardenas admitted that "the line between ordinary Cubans and the regime is impossible to discern."
Human right advocates say Trump is a hypocrite. This isn't about standing for human rights. It's about checking off a box to show he's fulfilling his promises.
"We're willing to sword dance with the Saudis and praise the Philippines dictator," said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a civil coalition against the travel and trade embargo. "This is the least concerned administration with human rights," he added.
Trump's moves to isolate Cuba has little support outside of a core group of Cuba hardliners. The U.S. is going back to a policy that doesn't work. For the past 50 years, isolating Cuba did not do anything but cement opposition to the U.S. Obama's agreement was a good first step in doing what is truly good for the Cuban people.
"So the question is, what makes you think that going back to the same policy that has failed, you will have a different result?" Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division, said. He added that isolating Cuba again allowed the island's government to present itself as a victim, ironically enough taking the focus away from human rights violations.