Monday, November 28, 2016

Donald Trump threatens to reverse détente with Cuba

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 9:52 AM


Trump tweeted out the above this morning and his incoming chief of staff, Reince Preibus, says that Trump is "absolutely" willing to eliminate the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba begun by President Barack Obama.

The outdated and counterproductive policy of isolation with Cuba achieved nothing other than increasing the suffering of the Cuban people, and normalization was years, or decades, overdue (for what it's worth, diplomatic engagement with Cuba is supported by 58 percent of American public and opposed by just 25 percent).

Sen. Tom Cotton was one of the Republicans in Congress vigorously committed to continuing the failed policy; he will no doubt be heard from soon on this issue. Cotton is not just a neoconservative hawk, but a bellicose hard liner who seems reflexively opposed to diplomacy of any kind.

Sen. John Boozman, meanwhile, had a different take from Cotton back when Obama initiated the détente: 
While there were good intentions behind our isolation policy toward Cuba, it simply has not worked. We’ve run the same play over and over again for fifty years and the results have not changed. That’s why I support the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba and reopen our respective embassies. This will create a conduit to send American goods and services to Cuba and, along with that, American ideas. That truly is the way you change the world. A free and open Cuba is not going to materialize under isolation. It is time to try a new approach.
Wise words. Boozman is surely also influenced by the interests of Arkansas farmers and agribusiness, who strongly support an opening for trade with Cuba, which has a high demand for soybeans, rice, and corn. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been at the forefront of outreach to Cuba, making a trip there last year to promote trade opportunities for Arkansas. Are Trump's comments just bluster? Hutchinson and Arkansas agriculture interests will be watching closely.
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