Trump May Make It Harder To Travel To Cuba – And Send Remittances
By TIM PADGETT
Donald Trump becomes President on Friday – and now here we wait to see
how he plans to keep his pledge to roll back normalized relations with Cuba.
In recent weeks his transition team has reached out to Cuban-Americans
in South Florida for conversations about U.S.-Cuba policy. One of them
is Andy Gomez, a former senior fellow at the University of Miami's
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. Gomez spoke with WLRN's
Tim Padgett this week about his sense of what's coming on Cuba.
Andy, after listening to the transition team, how important is Cuba to
the incoming administration?
Well, realistically, we in South Florida like to think Cuba is always at
the top of the list in Washington. What I hear is, given all the issues
around the world this incoming administration will have to face, Cuba is
not even among the top 100 issues that they're looking at right now.
Unfortunately for us.
That said, what do you sense might be some of the more significant steps
Donald Trump is set to take regarding Cuba policy?
Donald Trump is going to address all foreign policy with a very firm
hand. Particularly on Cuba, the question that has been asked is, What
have we gained from Cuba in the last two years-plus since we established
diplomatic relations – and they think very little. If there is one thing
from my point of view, as I discussed with them, at least there is an
open line of communications.
But I don't think they'll continue these discussions that have been
going on, on a regular basis, between Washington and Havana. They think
we're going to have to push back – to see if Cuba might be willing to
come to the table on more serious issues.
So having said that: Remittances, you know, that used to be $300 and
President Obama changed all that and made it unlimited now? Possibly
that's going to be looked at very carefully – and it might even be reduced.
So Cubans here would no longer be able to send an unlimited amount of
remittances to the island?
That's what I hear.
And they'll will be rolled back to $300 per year?
They haven't set a figure yet. It might be $300 – it might be less. But
it's not going to be more.
I would assume that would also include the amount of travel that
Cuban-Americans can make to Cuba. Is that a political risk for Trump?
Allowing unlimited travel was one of the more popular moves that
President Obama made in the Cuban-American community in South Florida,
Yes, there is a political risk. And their idea here – which I don't
completely agree with, Tim, based on what has happened in the past – is
that if you create social pressure within the island by cutting down
additional help from the Americans, there could be the possibility of
social instability and millions of people out in the street protesting
and demanding. I don't see that happening in Cuba. I think it's very
So you do think we will see the Trump Administration make it harder for
Americans to visit Cuba?
Absolutely – until the Cubans come to the table with something concrete.
And let me tell you what I think that issue might be. If the Cubans are
willing to develop a long-term plan to repay American companies that had
their properties confiscated when the 1959 revolution came into play, I
think that will attract, as I am told, the Trump Administration to say,
OK, let's now move forward.
Another issue, as you know very well, is human rights. I mean,
repression under Raúl Castro has actually been worse than it was under
Fidel Castro during the last five years of his rule.
Or at least in terms of short-term jail detentions.
But you also mentioned that you see them rushing to reverse many of the
business executive orders Obama made on Cuba.
I think they will. But they're going to be very careful not to step on
or violate any contracts that are already in place.
For example, the Starwood hotel corporation – they have an agreement
with the Cuban government, so does Google, to operate in Cuba. If we
cancel the executive order that allows them to do that, we're cancelling
their contract with the Cuban government. Is the American government
then responsible for paying Starwood the amount that that contract was
worth? You know, those issues will have to be looked at very carefully.
Source: Trump May Make It Harder To Travel To Cuba – And Send
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