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News > U.S.

President-Elect Biden Is Likely to Reverse Trump's Cuba Policy

  • A car with a US flag is seen at the streets of Havana, Cuba. US-Cuba relations are likely to change under the new Democrat administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

    A car with a US flag is seen at the streets of Havana, Cuba. US-Cuba relations are likely to change under the new Democrat administration of President-elect Joe Biden. | Photo: EFE

Published 15 December 2020

President-elect Joe Biden’s team is planning to reverse his predecessor´s policies toward the Caribbean island, reversing many of the regulations and sanctions imposed on Cuba under Donald Trump, according to sources close to Bloomberg News.

President-elect Joe Biden’s team plans to revert the aggressive policies implemented by Donald Trump towards Cuba, reversing many of the sanctions and regulations imposed during his administration, according to people familiar with the matter.


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The strategy includes lifting some of the restrictions on travel, investment, and remittances from the U.S. to the island nation, generally perceived to hurt Americans and ordinary Cubans, said the sources, who requested anonymity since the new administration is still shaping up. Other measures that address alleged human rights abuses in Cuba would remain in place, the sources said.

The prospect of a thawing of tensions between Washington and Havana brings back memories of the period during the Obama administration when Biden took part in the normalization process, and, in a historical move, the two nations restored diplomatic ties, broken for decades since the early '60s.

But the president-elect is faced with some issues that might complicate his planned strategy: the Cuban economy is suffering a severe economic crisis, amid fallout from COVID-19, the decline of tourism income, and the recent tightening of U.S. sanctions during the final years of the Trump period. 

Confronted with plenty of red-hot issues on the domestic front, it is difficult to predict how soon Biden will turn his attention to implementing his Cuba policy. Travel to the island would be hindered by the ongoing COVID-19 travel-related restrictions in place worldwide. 

It’s also unclear whether Biden will increase staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The Trump administration drastically reduced diplomatic operations in Havana, after a very controversial and debated incident with U.S. diplomatic staff in the island, which led to claims of several strange illnesses associated with alleged "sonic attacks."

The president-elect also has to contend with Cuba's strong ties with Venezuela. Just as the Trump administration connected Cuba and Venezuela policy, using sanctions as a tool intended to spur political change, Biden’s team may have to revisit its predecessor's confrontational policies.

Another complicating factor is the state of Florida. While Biden’s advisers have criticized Trump’s Latin American policies for being heavily influenced by electoral politics, particularly the goal of winning the battleground state, they still face a difficult reality: the Democratic Party must defend a narrow House majority in 2022. Any policies that are perceived by the state's right-wing voters as reducing the pressure on Cuba and Venezuela could risk backlash at the polls in two years.



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