Tweeter-in-Chief Donald Trump does not have a clue as to how one governs a great nation.
Under heat for various suspected illegalities related to Russia, and the strong possibility of charges of obstruction of justice, he prefers to spend his time not by enacting important legislation which might make “America Great Again,” but by sabotaging all that President Obama was able to accomplish in eight scandal-free years.
His recent weakening of America’s 2015 ties to Cuba and its people is just one more example of policy by pique.
In Miami this week, Trump announced new policies designed to undo the goodwill and economic progress that Obama’s Cuban initiative created for Cubans and Americans. Ironically, the day Trump made his announcement, Raoul Castro said he would retire as president of Cuba in 2018.
Now Americans will no longer be able to enjoy their own private trips to Cuba. Those traveling with authorized education tours will be subject to new rules to ensure that they are not tourists. The new rules prevent Americans from staying in hotels operated by the Cuban military, which most of them are. It requires American citizens to go to Cuba only in organized groups. Trump’s policy will increase the cost of traveling there and inhibit many Americans from going. Last year, 614,443 Americans visited Cuba, including 284,937 Cuban-Americans.
Freedom to travel in an unrestricted way to any nation with which we have diplomatic relations should be a basic American liberty.
Cuba is one of the world’s smallest nations. Bully-in-Chief Trump prefers to beat up on little Cuba, ostensibly for not being democratic enough. On the other hand, he recently performed sword dances with Saudi princes, who sanction public lashings and beheadings and refuse to allow women to drive automobiles. Simultaneously, he refuses to condemn a fellow autocrat, Vladimir Putin, for seriously interfering in U.S. elections.
Since the Obama opening to Cuba, including the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, it has seen thousands of local entrepreneurs open small businesses, and more and more American companies engage in its healthier growing economy. The Trump move will hurt U.S. businessmen and farmers, who currently enjoy growing trade with Cuba. This will include North Carolina farmers who have benefited from a more prosperous Cuba. American companies will be barred by Trump from doing business with firms controlled by the Cuban military or its intelligence services.
The New York Times has editorialized that Trump’s punitive Cuba policy is a “spiteful political crusade to overturn crucial elements of his predecessor’s legacy while genuflecting to Cuban-Americans in Miami’s exile community who helped put him in office.”
Most economists who study Cuba believe Trump’s plan will hurt the average Cuban, who has struggled under the weight of a repressive Communist regime for six decades. It will harm the growing number of Cuban entrepreneurs who are riding the wave of renewed American tourism to prosperity unknown before Obama’s program of openness and free enterprise took hold.
His policy is not popular in Miami and Jersey City, where most in the Cuban exile community favor more freedom of travel and trade. (Younger Cuban-Americans do not share the acidic anti-Castro attitudes of their parents.) Fully 75 percent of all U.S. citizens favored Obama’s relaxing of tensions between the nations.
Trump’s poorly thought out policy damages our reputation in Latin America, where for generations our failed boycott of Cuba and American criminal behavior at Guantanamo prison were notorious. Now, by bullying Trump style, we are seen as a nation that seeks to harm the Cuban people, not help them. Like most that Trump does, this action was poorly thought out and enacted without consulting experts in the field. It will certainly further harm our already damaged international reputation.
In record-breaking time, Trump has weakened the faith of NATO members in our reliability, while offending traditional allies. He has appointed ideologues to Cabinet posts who are determined to undo the mandates of the very agencies they administer. He will make health insurance less viable for 20 million Americans, while funneling billions in tax breaks to our richest citizens, including himself. His abandonment of the Paris Climate Accords (which 195 nations signed) has made a travesty of American foreign policy.
The Cuban people are strong. They have suffered under many dictators, including the Castro brothers. They will stoically endure the latest one, who happens to live only 200 nautical miles away in regal splendor at Mar-a-Lago.
Paul Dunn lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at: email@example.com.