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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

United States Cuba Relations: "Once More Unto the Breach Dear Friends, Once More"

The ongoing tragedy and saga of U.S. Cuba relations enter a new phase with the announcement of new sanctions and travel restrictions.  The policy failures of the past never get old; it seems so while we wait to read the fine print of the soon to be released regulations and absorb what they mean in real terms for Americans and Cubans, some immediate takeaways for both the United States and Cuba.

The Trump Administration is forcing a policy of confrontation and suffering to resolve issues that have been going on for 60 years between both countries.  No one knows what the effect of lawsuits filed as per Title III of Helms-Burton will be other than chaos, complication, and confusion.  Will claims get resolved?  Flowers will grow in gardens, not deserts.

Politically, the Trump Administration has delivered to the hardliners in Florida and New Jersey what they always wanted, total control of U.S. Cuba policy once more.  For the moment. That was both a payment for delivering Florida to Trump in November 2016 and an extension of credit for a repeat performance in November 2020.  They better deliver or else.

For opponents of this move, the political calculus is straightforward.  Supporters of normalization must either elect a Democrat in 2020 or the alternative, deny Florida and New Jersey to President Trump in his re-election bid.  The good news from this crisis is that finally, normalization supporters may get politically involved enough to make an electoral difference.  Two things only control U.S. Cuba relations, votes, and money.  Everything else is fluff.

For the Cubans, there is an existential crisis on the horizon — also, questions on how they will come through this too. May common sense and good will ultimately prevail. 

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