Will Biden restore ties with Cuba? Debate swirls over next steps

Nora Gamez Torres & Jacqueline Charles –

On the campaign trail, President-elect Joe Biden promised to reverse Donald Trump’s restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba. But he stopped short of saying just how far he’ll go in restoring ties with the communist island. To rewrite Cuba policy, Biden will have to navigate the perilous waters of Florida politics, where a large exile population has turned increasingly Republican.
The landscape in Cuba has also changed since former president Barack Obama and Raul Castro agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations in December 2014. “It’s not the same Cuba as it was four years ago,” said Eric Farnsworth, Vice-President of the Council of the Americas and a former US State Department official. “I think there’s going to be a sober reassessment about it. Did meaningful change happen?” Obama’s policies promoted the exchange of people, ideas and goods between the US and the island 90 miles away. It also bet on expanding the private sector to form a nascent middle class that would eventually advocate for more freedoms on the island.
Obama said it didn’t cost the US much to try a new approach because the island wasa “tiny little country” posing no significant security risks to US interests. But the test lasted just over two years before Trump started reversing what he called a “terrible and misguided” deal and punishing the Cuban government with a flurry of sanctions for supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.
The issue divides Congress as much as the Cuban American community. The Biden transition team declined to answer questions sent by the Miami Herald about the incoming administration’s policies regarding Cuba. — dpa