The Trump administration has indicated that an announcement will likely be made in
the “coming weeks,” based on a review of Cuba policy that has been ongoing since
January of this year.
According to a report released last week by Engage Cuba, rolling back the current U.S.
policy on Cuba could cost U.S. businesses and taxpayers $6.6 billion over the course of
President Trump’s first term and affect 12,295 jobs across the country.
Since former President Obama’s historic engagement with Cuba starting in 2015, the
island nation has taken steps to restructure its sovereign debts, create opportunities for
its fledgling private sector and attract foreign players in its travel and tourism sector
including U.S.based hotel giant, Marriott International.
Since 2015, American companies have undertaken significant efforts in identifying
opportunities and cultivating appropriate connections in Cuba. Many are now well
positioned to take advantage of continued relaxations in restrictions and further market
openings,” said Louis A. Dejoie, chairman of the International Law Practice Group at
McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC. “To reverse course at this point would only benefit our
foreign competitors, none of whom are under the same restraints. If the Trump
Administration truly wants to put America first, the choice seems clear.
Beyond U.S. businesses considerations, there are other important factors involving vital
environment issues and narcotics enforcement that could be adversely impacted by a
reversal in U.S. policy towards Cuba.
In 2015, NOAA, the U.S. National Park Service and Cuba’s National Center for Protected
Areas agreed to share research to help the countries work together on some of the
Caribbean’s most ecologically significant resources.
“Ocean currents know no boundaries,” said Billy Causey, regional director of NOAA’s
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean
region. “They’re a conveyor belt, moving important marine life between our countries.
Working together will help us better preserve these natural resources to benefit people
in both nations.”
Cuba and the U.S. first focused on five sensitive environmental areas–Cuba’s
Guanahacabibes National Park, including its offshore coral reefs at Banco de San
Antonio; NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks and Florida Keys national marine sanctuaries;
and the Park Service’s Dry Tortugas and Biscayne national parks.
And last year, Cuba and the U.S. signed an important bilateral agreement to prepare for
and respond to oil spills and hazardous substance pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and
the Straits of Florida.
Under this agreement, the U.S. and Cuba will cooperate and coordinate in an effort to
prevent, contain, and clean up marine oil and other hazardous pollution in order to
minimize adverse effects to public health and safety and the environment.
According to the US State Department’s 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy
Report (INCSR), issued March 2, 2016, Cuba has a number of antidrugrelated
agreements in place with other countries, including 36 bilateral agreements for counterdrug
cooperation and 27 policing cooperation agreements. As reported in the INCSR,
Cuba reported seizing 962 kilograms of drugs (largely marijuana) in the first eight
months of 2015 and detected 33 suspected “gofast” boats on its southeastern coast.
In April 2016, Cuban security officials toured the US Joint Interagency Task Force South
(JIATFSouth) based in Key West, FL.200 JIATFSouth has responsibility for detecting
and monitoring illicit drug trafficking in the region and for facilitating international and
interagency interdiction efforts.
Since 2003, Cuba has aggressively pursued an internal enforcement and investigation
program against its incipient drug market with an effective nationwide drug prevention
and awareness campaign.