The Trump administration is considering undoing Obama’s opening to Cuba:
President Trump is considering reversing major pieces of the Obama administration’s opening with Cuba and reinstating limits on travel and commerce, citing human rights abuses by the Castro government as justification for a more punitive approach.
Reversing the opening to Cuba would be a significant unforced error, but it is consistent with Trump’s determination to dismantle as much of Obama’s legacy as he can while giving his party’s hard-liners what they want. Restoring relations with the Cuban government and lifting some of the useless restrictions on travel and business were the right things to do, they were overwhelmingly popular with Americans and Cubans alike, and given time they would have benefited the people of Cuba far more than the bankrupt policy that they replaced. Undoing some or all of these measures would return the U.S. to a mindless policy of trying to punish the Cuban government while mostly just hurting the people that Washington claims to be concerned about.
The idea that this administration in particular cares about human rights is especially risible given their indulgence of and praise for the likes of Sisi, Duterte, and King Salman. That doesn’t mean that the abuses of the Cuban government should be ignored or whitewashed, but it should mean that the U.S. doesn’t use them as a pretext for wrecking an otherwise sensible policy of engagement. The only people that want that policy to be scrapped are pro-embargo American dead-enders who are still acting as if we are in the middle of the Cold War.
Another cost of reversing the opening to Cuba is that it will further sour the rest of Latin America on the U.S. under Trump, and it will damage relations with virtually all of our neighbors in this hemisphere. Obama’s decision to restore ties with Havana removed a decades-old burden from our relationships with Latin American states, and Trump would be a fool to want to put things back the way they were.