by Nick Syris, CRT
President-elect Donald Trump has publicly stated that he plans on reversing a lot of President Obama’s executive orders and that he feels that we can negotiate a better deal from the Cuban government. He has suggested he might actually cancel new U.S. business ventures in Cuba unless better terms are renegotiated.
Is that a ploy? Does he really mean it? On one side of the coin, the consensus is that Donald Trump is first, and foremost, a savvy business man. Of course he won’t close an opportunity for American business to explore and do business with a country that is virtually untapped for the past half century or more due to the embargo.
Whether it’s a ploy on Trump’s behalf or not, it has gotten the Cuban government’s attention. It’s almost comical, .just how fast Cuban officials appear to be accelerating their approval of deals with U.S. companies in an attempt to build momentum behind U.S. – Cuba normalization before President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month.
The U.S. and Cuba have struck a series of bilateral deals on issues ranging from environmental protection to direct mail, and these go back to the declaration of detente on Dec. 17, 2014, the day President Obama’s executive orders took effect. However, business ties have failed to keep pace. The Cuban government has blamed the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. Many U.S. businesses say Cuba has been moving on most proposals so slowly that some suspect the government has been deliberately limiting the development of economic ties.
The way I see it – it’s a “Catch 22” for the Cuban government. They want Amercian dollars. They need American dollars. But they are also very cautious to keep their controls in place with their citizens. We are talking about a half decade of very tight controls of the Cuban people, that are being carefully loosened at a painstakingly slow pace.
Let me give you the perfect example…
When the direct internet cable connection was finally complete from Venezuela, the Cuban government, for almost two years, told the public that the connection was not functioning. I personally spoke to people involved in that venture, including Venezuelans and the Chinese workers that were contracted to complete the job. Everyone told me they didn’t understand why the government was saying it wasn’t operational, they knew in fact that it was. I can only speculate. Anyone ever heard of Pandora’s box? Well, my feeling is that once the lid on that box was opened, there was no turning back. I think it was just anxiety and fear of opening up to the outside world. and what the repercussions would be.
*Nick Syris is a co-host on the Smooth Draws Radio Show. In addition, he is the brand owner of LH Premium Cigars and he is a certified retail tobacconist. We thank Nick for his guest appearance this week for Doc’s Diversions.