United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Monday, July 2, 2018

United States Cuba Relations: The Trump Calculus – How Trump Ended the Cuba Embargo

Is there a scenario in which President Trump would end the Cuban embargo and change U.S. Cuba relations for the better?  It all depends on Florida…


NOVEMBER 3, 2020

It was approximately 10:49PM that evening.  The networks had just called the election announcing that Donald Trump now had 270 electoral votes in his column giving him a second term in office! The President was relishing his re-election moment in the midst of one of the most turbulent first terms in American history.  He had now the 270 electoral votes, but surprisingly and much to his disappointment, he did not carry the state of Florida.  The Trump campaign though had wisely strategized a victory path without Florida.  Florida had gone Democratic due to the demographic shifts and the Puerto Rican vote that tilted the statewide vote blue.  The President was nonetheless embarrassed and humiliated that the state that is home to the second White House, Mar-a-Lago, did not deliver for him.  Even his home state of New York also did not turn out for him either.  He had expected that one though.

As the congratulatory calls came in, Senator Marco Rubio, Florida’s Republican Senator, also called the President; “Congratulations Mr. President on your re-election victory.”  The President responded sternly, “Well Marco, I have to say I am very disappointed in the results we had in Florida.  You guys did not deliver like you said you would.  You embarrassed me. But listen, that’s water under the bridge now.  As we start the next term, as part of the campaign to Make America Great Again, you know what there wasn’t when America was great the last time?”  “No, Mr. President,” responded Senator Rubio.  “There wasn’t a Cuban Embargo,” responded the President.   “So, you know what we’re going to do Marco? We’re getting rid of the embargo.  It isn’t working and hasn’t worked and you guys and your people in Miami are holding everything up.  You know there is at least 100 Billion dollars, that’s Billion with a B Marco, worth of development and construction on that island?  And it’s time that American jobs, American businesses, and Americans get a piece of that business.  The whole place needs to be rebuilt and a paint job. American construction and American paint should be doing that. Not China. Not Russia.  It should be American.  Besides, the Cuban people are nice people.  They need the jobs and the business too. And they love me.  So you and your people in Miami, its now time to get on board this new term.” 

“Mr. President, hold on a second, the last time America was great, Cuba wasn’t communist either.  You’re going to really upset and disappoint the Cuban American community here that has been steadfastly loyal to you sir, I’m not sure I can support you on this.  Besides you made a deal with me and Mario [Diaz-Balart] and let us have Cuba policy” retorted Senator Rubio.  “Well Marco, we deal with communist countries and tough leaders all the time.  I know how to deal with them.  You leave that to me now. You saw what we did with North Korea.  There are peace and economic development there now.  Not nuclear war.   You all did not get this Cuba thing under control for decades and so now its over.  It’s enough already. You can’t even get the party to turn out and vote for me in Florida. It turns out I didn’t even need you to win. Besides we’ve been good to your people in Florida and New Jersey for decades. So now we need to move forward here. Jobs, Marco. Jobs. Our people need jobs.  Cuba needs hotels and retirement villages for our people.  They’ll love the business we’ll give them.  Get with the program, Marco.  Or you’ll find you’ll be looking out for a new job in two years [2022].  Did you know your competitors in the Republican primary are already reaching out to me?  Now, I want you to get involved and take lead on this Marco.  If you don’t, I’ll find one of your colleagues who will.”


POTUS:  Hello Miguel.  Nice to be speaking with you.  Listen, I want to let you know I am going to ask the Congress here to end the embargo.  Its time all of this ended.  Besides, your relatives in Florida were not very nice to me in this last election.  I don’t owe them anything anymore.  Cuba needs help and from what my people tell me, a lot of construction and development.  You can have the best First Class hotels, golf courses, and properties built on your beautiful island. Let’s even put a Major League Baseball team in Cuba.  We can really help Cuba turn the page and move forward as a country.  We need economic security here in the region.  I can’t have all these people coming from everywhere to America anymore.  You can stop being a poor country.  Don’t pass up the opportunity I am extending here. 

POTRC: Well, Mr. President, thank you for calling me.   I think everything is possible as long as everything we do is as equals and with mutual respect.  You cannot tell us to change our political and economic system, and you cannot embarrass or humiliate us.  By the way, we love the American people.  We never had a problem with them.  In fact, we want them here visiting our beaches, staying at our hotels, and even living here in retirement.  There is so much we could do together.  Our problem has always been with our countrymen who fled and have been using your political system to make trouble for us here.  You know we have been having talks with your government for so many years, so you are well aware of our interests and goals.

POTUS: I know, I know. I am up to a stack of briefing books over a foot high on Cuba now on my desk here in the Oval office.  You know what I need Miguel from you as soon as we can?  I need good deals for the people who still have outstanding claims with your country.  If you can give them really good deals, that will take the heat off the issue and set the stage for what will be a great moment in history.  I also know you want Guantanamo back but I can’t do that just now.  We’ll talk about that though as part of our deal.  I know that was a great deal for the U.S. and a bad deal for you guys.  We’ll figure out how to fix that.  Let’s make history for both of our countries.

POTRC:  Mr. President…

POTUS: Call me Donald, Miguel.  By the way, I am going to give you a telephone number to call me directly.  You don’t need to go through anyone.  If you have any questions or concerns, you just call me when you need to.  We’ll set everything up and have our people and staffs implement.  Top down.

POTRC:  That’s gracious of you Donald.  Well, if we can begin to address the concerns we raised and have a plan to move on them, everything is possible, except of course our sovereignty.

POTUS:  I’ll have my people work on that.  Then at some point, we can arrange visits between us during this term of office.

POTRC: Well it was a grand moment when we had your predecessor, Mr. Obama, here to visit in Havana.  But it will be the most historic when you visit us in Havana.

POTUS:  Well, this will be even bigger and better than Obama.  He and Hillary have problems right now as you know.  I’d like to do it at the right time, you know, at the groundbreaking of an American hotel, a new sports stadium, that sort of thing.  I know the best people in the business. We’ll make it a really big deal, a terrific moment for both of our countries.  Then I’d like for you to come visit with me and I’ll show you the White House and even better, Mar-a-Lago.  You’ll love it. 

POTRC:  I’ll be back in touch.  Thanks Donald.

POTUS:  Thanks Miguel.


“...and so I am calling upon the Congress to end the Cuban Embargo once and for all.  I am lifting all restrictions that I can. But now I need you to finish the job.  We need American jobs and businesses coming from ending the Cuban Embargo.  There are over one hundred billion dollars of jobs and construction there. We need to put Americans and Cubans working together to rebuild that island. The last time America was great, there wasn’t a Cuban Embargo. There have been far too much personal politics on this issue for decades.  I have decided it is time to end it.  Like we did with North Korea and so many victories in my first term, it is time to put this problem into the past.  I know that if put to a vote, we have the votes to end the embargo tomorrow.  I know Republicans who support me and even Democrats who are against me at least can all agree on ending the embargo.  So ladies and gentlemen, let’s get this done now…”

The author is a graduate of New York Military Academy, Class of 1981.  His mentor at the Academy was the late Col. Theodore Dobias.

President Donald J. Trump is a graduate of New York Military Academy, Class of 1963.  His mentor at the Academy was the late Col. Theodore Dobias.