Published by Alma
By Prensa Latina
The changes that U.S. President Donald Trump were expected to make in Washington’s Cuba policy will fail, according to Ben Rhodes, a former advisor of President Barack Obama (2009-2017).
In an article published in the magazine The Atlantic, this key personage in the process of rapprochement between Cuba and the United States that began during the Obama administration noted that President Trump is turning back the clock to a tragically failed Cold War mindset by reimposing restrictions on trade and travels.
‘It didn’t have to be this way, and it won’t stay this way, predicted Rhodes, who regretted that the White House chief ignored the voices of the Cuban people and a majority of Americans just so that he can reward a small and dwindling political constituency.
He noted that after the way paved by Obama, ‘embassies were opened, and bilateral cooperation was initiated on the types of issues that usually guide diplomacy between neighbors: counter-narcotics, law enforcement, agriculture, testing vaccines for cancer, and responding to natural disasters like oil spills and hurricanes.’
‘With the establishment of direct flights, cruise lines, and broadened authorization for travel to Cuba, the number of Americans visiting increased 50 percent to over 500,000 in 2016,’ he wrote.
‘U.S. technology companies like Google took advantage of the opening to forge new agreements,’ he added.
According to Rhodes, ‘the opening to Cuba also opened up new opportunities in Latin America and around the world.’
He admitted that President Trump’s actions will not reverse all of this progress, but they represent a step backwards.
While Trump did not take dramatic steps to restrict travel, he made it more difficult. U.S. travelers now have to go through the absurd process of figuring out if a hotel they’re staying at is owned by the Cuban military, and it included the ominous language about requiring Americans to document their activities.
Despite rhetoric about supporting Cuban entrepreneurs, any reduction in travel is going to hit them, said Obama’s ex-advisor, who added that the new restrictions will affect U.S. companies interested in doing business with Cuba.
‘The instinct for isolation that Trump embraced will fail. Ironically, the hard-liners who pressed Trump to make these changes are only condemning themselves to future irrelevance,’ Rhodes pointed out.
He stated that polls show that over 70 percent of U.S. citizens, including a majority of Republicans, support lifting the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington on Cuba.
According to Rhodes, engagement should – and will – prevail. That is why Trump’s announcement should be seen as the last illogical gasp of a strain of U.S. politics with a 50-year track record of failure.