WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has revisit predecessor’s diplomatic successes and failures, but ready to slam doors in Cuba?
On Friday, he is expected unveil new policy relations with Cuba after Barack Obama painstakingly restored the communist-run island.
Although Americans support decisions and the US business community has welcome moves reopen trade, Trump’s campaign won him support influential Cuban exiles in Florida.
The White House not much slip, but a radical turnaround as a renewed break in diplomatic relations appear to the cards.
Instead, Trump announce return to restrictions on US tourists heading to Cuba and businesses signing partnerships with Cuban firms.
That meant press Raul Castro’s government toward democratic reform and appease Cuban-American voters, many of whom communist rule.
US Secretary Rex Tillerson on Tuesday acknowledged that increased cooperation helps both countries provides opportunities downtrodden Cubans.
But he cited the “dark side” of Cuba’s regime, saying Trump’s review had concluded that renewed business relations help fund the regime.
“Cuba has failed to improve its own human rights record. Political opponents continue to be imprisoned. Dissidents continue to be jailed,” he told senators.
“And as we’re enjoying the benefits on the economic and development side, are we inadvertently or directly providing financial support to the regime?”
“Our view is: ‘we are,'” he added, answering his own question.
That view resonates with Cuban-Americans such as Senator Marco Rubio, the son of anti-Castro immigrants, who has long warned that detente is moving too fast.
“I am confident the president will keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and which advance the Cuban people’s aspirations for economic and political liberty,” he said.
Trump accused Cuba of “cruel despotism” in May, vowing to support its people’s hopes for democracy, which raised ironic cheers from rights supporters more used to his cozying up to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other autocratic states.
But watchdog groups such as Human Rights Watch are skeptical of a return to the terms of the half-century Cold War stand-off, with its total trade embargo and no diplomatic ties.
“The previous administration was right to reject a policy that hurt ordinary Cubans and did nothing to advance human rights,” said Daniel Wilkinson, the group’s managing director for the Americas.
“The fact that Obama’s approach hasn’t led to political reform in Cuba after just a few years isn’t reason to return to a policy that proved a costly failure over many decades.”
On the economic front, business interests on both sides of the Florida Straits are wary of a return to a rigorous enforcement of the still-active US sanctions legislation.
Some 50 female Cuban entrepreneurs who have benefited from the island’s limited free-market opening have even written to Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka.
Inviting her to the island to see for herself, the women insist that “millions of Cubans” now benefit from increased tourism and trade.