Cuba: Trump rolls back Obama’s opening
President Trump’s rollback of the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba is yet another “foreign policy blunder,” said Daniel Kurtz-Phelan in NYMag.com. Trump last week reintroduced restrictions that bar Americans from traveling to Cuba without a licensed tour group and make it harder to do business there—in particular banning transactions with GAESA, a powerful corporate arm of the Cuban military. Reversing Obama’s “one-sided” deal, Trump claimed, would pressure the Castro regime to make human rights reforms. In fact, the president resurrected “one of the most glaring failures” of American Cold War policy, which actually helped strengthen the Castro regime’s grip on power. Since Obama opened up Cuba, many more Cubans have cellphones and internet access, while “hundreds of thousands have become entrepreneurs and small-business owners.” Now, by pandering to a sliver of the Republican base—Miami’s aging, fervently anti- Castro Cuban exiles—the president will succeed only in keeping the Cuban people isolated.
“Trump is right to recalibrate this policy without jettisoning it,” said the Miami Herald in an editorial. Though we’re not enamored of his limitations on booming U.S. travel to Cuba, cutting off GAESA, “which controls 60 percent of the Cuban economy,” will stem the money flowing into a Raúl Castro regime that “has given very little” on human rights. The opening to Cuba was a return to an “old, discredited policy of embracing Latin American dictators at the behest of corporate businesses,” said Frank Calzon in USAToday.com. While U.S. companies and tourists rushed into Cuba, “beatings and political detentions increased dramatically while Obama looked the other way.” Now Trump has a message for Havana: If you want American millions, your “anti-American foreign policy and repression at home must change.”
Trump’s passion for human rights sure is selective, said Kevin Liptak and Dan Merica in CNN.com. He praises Vladimir Putin for being a “strong leader” and excuses his killings of dissidents and journalists. He did a sword dance and bowed to the Saudi king, and said, “We are not here to lecture” the Saudis about human rights, despite the royal family’s routine beheadings and oppression of dissidents and women. Trump lavished praise on Chinese leader Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, never uttering a word about his authoritarian regime’s jailing of dissidents and strict censorship of the internet. So why does Cuba offend him?