Tom Perez on Trump’s Return to a Policy of Isolation with Cuba

Today, President Trump announced that he will roll back many of President Obama’s changes to America’s relationship with Cuba, returning to a policy of isolation that failed for more than 50 years. DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s disastrous abdication of American leadership and abandonment of the Cuban people:


“The Cuban people deserve an open and democratic future. That’s why, after 55 years of isolation, President Obama and Democrats worked to establish a new beginning between our two countries that would bring progress and prosperity to both our peoples.


“Instead of building on that historic progress, the Trump administration is abandoning America’s leadership role and reverting to a policy that failed for more than five decades. That doesn’t just hurt Cubans – it also hurts American jobs and small businesses that have benefitted from our renewed engagement with the Cuban economy.


“While Cuba sits just 90 miles from American shores, our relationship has always been about more than proximity. Even through decades of tension, the passions our peoples share have transcended the differences between our governments – from food and music to sports and literature. There is no doubt that the Cuban government must enact meaningful reforms that expand political rights and economic opportunities for its people. But the best way to realize that progress is to empower the Cuban people, not turn our back on their hopes for a better future. Repression thrives in isolation, and today’s decision is a step back for Cubans, Americans, Cuban-Americans, and the world.”


 Tom Perez acerca del erróneo cambio de política de Trump hacia Cuba 


El día de hoy el presidente Trump anunció que dejará sin efecto un número de políticas delineadas por el presidente Obama al restablecer relaciones con Cuba, retomando un enfoque de aislamiento que falló durante más de 50 años. El Director del Comité Nacional Demócrata, Tom Pérez, realizó las siguientes declaraciones como respuesta a las desastrosas acciones de la administración Trump, que renuncian al liderazgo estadounidense y dan la espalda al pueblo cubano: 


“El pueblo de Cuba merece un futuro abierto y democrático. Es por eso que, luego de 55 años de aislamiento, el presidente Obama y los Demócratas trabajamos para un nuevo comienzo de relaciones entre nuestros países. Uno que se tradujera en progreso y prosperidad para sus pueblos. 


“En vez de construir sobre ese histórico paso, la administración Trump decidió abandonar el rol de liderazgo de los Estados Unidos, retomando una política que falló por más de cinco décadas. Esto no sólo afecta al pueblo cubano, sino que también afecta a trabajadores y pequeños empresarios de nuestro país que se han beneficiado de la posibilidad de hacer negocios con la isla. 

“Aunque Cuba se encuentra sólo a 90 millas de nuestras costas, nuestra relación siempre ha significado más que nuestra proximidad geográfica. Inclusive durante décadas de tensión, la cercanía entre nuestros pueblos ha trascendido las diferencias de nuestros gobiernos y hemos intercambiado nuestra comida, música, deporte, literatura y mucho más. No cabe duda que el gobierno de Cuba debe realizar reformas sustantivas para expander los derechos políticos y dar oportunidades económicas al pueblo, pero la mejor manera de hacerlo es fortaleciendo al pueblo de Cuba y no dándoles la espalda. La represión prospera donde hay aislamiento y la decisión de hoy es un paso hacia atrás para los cubanos, los estadounidenses, los cubanoamericanos y el mundo entero.”



Obama’s opening of diplomatic ties to Cuba enhanced national security and coordination on health care, oil spill mitigation, counternarcotics efforts, and intelligence sharing.

Politico“Former President Barack Obama’s historic opening to Cuba didn’t just create an attractive market to American companies. It also enhanced America’s national security, reshuffling regional geopolitics in our favor, increasing border security and expanding access to counterterrorism intelligence.”

New York Times Editorial Board“Mr. Obama’s opening to Havana has enabled the freer flow of people, goods and information between the two countries, even as significant differences remain over human rights. It has produced bilateral agreements on health care cooperation, joint planning to mitigate oil spills, coordination on counternarcotics efforts and intelligence-sharing.”

Politico:“The administration further relaxed economic restrictions on Cuba Friday, allowing more collaboration on medical research, the approval of Cuban drugs for import and the lifting of monetary limits on cigars and rum imports… The latest move will authorize collaboration between U.S. and Cuban medical researchers, allow U.S. citizens to provide services to improve Cuba’s infrastructure and remove dollar limitations on the import of cigar, alcohol and other goods for personal use.”


Improved economic ties to Cuba under Obama benefited the American economy.

The Guardian“Certain industries, like technology and construction, could benefit from authorized changes to US exports. American firms will be able to export materials for building private residences and agricultural equipment for ‘small farmers’.”

Fortune“For the U.S., most of the gains will be concentrated in agricultural and telecommunications exports. The largest winners will be farmers in the Southeastern United states, whose proximity to Cuba make their poultry, fish, rice, and corn exports to Cuba especially competitive.”

“Over the course of Trump’s first term in office, cutting links with Cuba would cost $6.6 billion and threaten 12,295 American jobs, and the people most affected by additional travel and trade regulations on Cuba would be those in rural communities dependent on shipping, agriculture and manufacturing.” [Newsweek, 6/1/17]


Businesses, executives, and industry groups opposed reversing the opening of economic ties with Cuba.

Engage Cuba:“A national coalition of over 100 U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce-related businesses and associations, urged President-elect Trump to support American agriculture by strengthening the bilateral trade relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. The letter, organized by the Engage Cuba Coalition and USA Rice, also encourages the president-elect to support federal legislation that would allow American farmers and agribusiness to compete in Cuba’s import market.”

Washington Post: “As President Trump’s national security team worked over the past several weeks on a promised new Cuba policy designed to roll back the Obama administration’s diplomatic and economic openings to the island, a steady stream of lawmakers, business leaders and Cuba experts rushed to offer guidance to the White House. With few exceptions, their advice was: Don’t do it.”


Farm state Republicans, human rights organizations, and Cuba experts all oppose rolling back economic ties with Cuba.  A majority of Americans support the re-established ties.

New York Times Editorial Board :“Engage Cuba, representing business groups, economists and leading Cuba experts, has estimated that a reversal of Mr. Obama’s policies would cost the American economy $6.6 billion and affect more than 12,000 American jobs. The group predicts that the hardest-hit areas will be rural communities that rely on agriculture, manufacturing and shipping industries, as well as Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, all of which supported Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.”

Pew Research“Three-quarters of U.S. adults (75%) approve of the decision last year to re-establish U.S. relations with Cuba, while nearly as many (73%) favor ending the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center conducted Dec. 1-5.”

Washington Post:“U.S. and international human rights organizations, while condemning ongoing Cuban government repression, say that tightening the screws will only bolster government hard-liners, putting even more pressure on the island’s nascent civil society and private sector.”  


Trump’s businesses violated the Cuba Embargo and until recently he looked to expand to Cuba.

Newsweek1998: Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts spent a minimum of $68,000 to secretly send an American consulting firm to Cuba to explore business opportunities prohibited by the U.S. government.

BloombergMultiple Trump Organization golf executives, including Trump legal officer Jason Greenblatt and Trump environmental consultant Ed Russo, travelled to Cuba beginning in late 2012 or early 2013.

CBS MiamiTrump on stories of business dealings in Cuba: “Maybe at the right time look at Cuba. but I wouldn’t want to do anything in Cuba until we have a very powerful agreement.”