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Havana, Cuba © julianpetersphotography

Donald Trump’s Cuba Policy, Explained

Donald Trump promises to roll back Obama’s Cuba policy.

When Barack Obama announced a restoration of US relations with Cuba in December 2014, it put an end to some 56 years of bad blood between the two neighbors. Having spent the last six decades trying to subvert Fidel Castro’s repressive regime — El Comandante is rumored to have survived over 600 assassination attempts, outlasting 11 US presidents when he passed away in 2016, aged 90 — Obama decided that the policy of isolation had not worked.

Under the 1917 Trading With the Enemy Act, which prescribes any financial transactions in time of war or state of emergency in relation to a particular country, the US imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960 that covered all but medical supplies and certain foods. John F. Kennedy later expanded this to include all US imports from the island, making the policy permanent in 1962. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union — Cuba’s communist ally against imperialism — the effects of the policy became increasingly more detrimental to the impoverished population. As Amnesty International cited in a 2009 report on the effects of the embargo on Cuba, it is “the most comprehensive set of US sanctions on any country, including the other countries designated by the US government to be state sponsors of terrorism.”

Under the Obama administration thaw, trade and financial services restrictions were eased, allowing Americans to send unlimited money to private Cuban nationals back home. Travel restrictions for Americans were lifted, and they were even permitted to bring back $100-worth of Cuban cigars — a longstanding smuggler’s job. The reopening of the US Embassy in Havana after 54 years signaled a willingness of both sides to start working through their differences. A new Cuba was now a possibility.

Now, President Donald Trump has announced a roll back on yet another one of Obama’s policies. Speaking at the Manuel Artime Theater — named after the man who led the failed CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 — Trump announced: “We do not want US dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba.” The Washington Post looks at what’s about to change.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: julianpetersphotography