Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tea Leaves on Trump and Cuba

Frank Mora has a pessimistic view of Cuba policy under Donald Trump.

But beyond campaign/transition promises or appointments, the reason Mr. Trump is likely to fulfill his promises is that, in the end, he really does not care about Cuba or democracy. Through the campaign and the transition period, he has consistently shown a willingness to sacrifice national interests and policy effectiveness for transactional domestic politics.

I have leaned a bit the other way, because of a point Frank acknowledges but thinks won't hold out.

After the election, some of those trying to read the crystal ball of Trump’s intentions toward Cuba argued that Trump is ultimately a pragmatic businessman and that he would, in the end, soften his stance. After all, the argument goes, reversing policy would adversely affect business deals and other benefits for businesses and people on both sides of the Florida Straits, deals that are thought to total more than $5 billion. 

I have tended to think that Trump will roll back some things but leaves plenty others in place. More specifically, for example, he could tighten up who is allowed to travel (right now you cannot go as a tourist but you can get awfully close to tourism). So Trump could make a lot of noise about blocking tourism to the Castro government, while not significantly cutting into the business already being done there. I tend to see this as a transactional sort of arrangement that Trump might like.

However, it is true that over the past six months or so his rhetoric has been pretty solidly hardline. On the other hand, he easily moves away from hardline positions even as he pretends still to adhere to them. On the other, other hand, he wants to keep the support of the small but very vocal Cuban American hardliners.

At this point there are too many hands. We have to wait for January 20.


Alfredo 10:15 AM  

I'm with you and also leaning the other way......predicting Trump is harder than climbing Mt Everest in one hour.....

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