Fecteau: Adiós Cuba

Sunday, June 18, 2017
Matt Fecteau, GoLocalProv Guest MINDSETTER™

President Barack Obama recognized the United States embargo against Cuba was counterproductive to American interests and appropriately relaxed its restrictions. In turn, Mr. Obama made it much easier for Americans to the visit the Caribbean island and for businesses to import Cuban goods. The boon in tourism jump-started Cuba’s sluggish economy and increased American influence. 

While the deceased strongman Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, remains in power, with appropriate prodding from the United States and the Obama administration, the Cuban regime loosened its grip on the economy, allowed greater press freedom, and expanded personal liberties. This is a direct result of relaxed relations between the two countries. But President Donald J. Trump has now changed that. 

Mr. Trump reversed Obama’s relaxed stance towards Cuba calling it a "terrible and misguided deal” and called the Cuba government a “brutal, brutal regime.” Under Trump’s revised policy, while Cubans living in the states still can travel to Cuba, and the U.S. embassy remains open on Cuban soil, Americans once again are restricted from traveling to the island, and business transactions are also limited. 

Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t appear to be based in reality. The United States has normal diplomatic and trade relations with many other dictatorships that have far worse human rights records. In fact, President Trump negotiated an arms deal with prominent human rights abuser Saudi Arabia valued at $100 billion. 

One of the most oppressive regimes throughout the world, Saudi Arabia denies women rights, decapitates alleged criminals, amputates limbs, and quite literally crucifies children. If human rights were a concern, Saudi Arabia should have crossed his mind. 

Trump also called Cuba a national security threat. As evidence, Mr. Trump cites an attempt back in 2013 when Cuba tried to ship obsolete weapons to North Korea. 

However, on closer inspection, even this doesn’t make any sense. China routinely sells arms to North Korea, and Trump’s BFF Russian President Vladimir Putin authorizes weapon sales to North Korea regularly. The United States has decent relations with China, and Trump has called for better relations with Russia. 

Trump’s bizarre stance on Cuba appears to be more a political swipe at President Obama than an authentic criticism. For an island located just 90 miles from Key West, the United States should play an influential role in Cuban political aspirations but has failed to because of the embargo, which more contained the regime than undermined it. 

Mr. Trump – who himself illegally conducted business in Cuba — brought back an antiquated policy designed for the Cold War that failed for over 50 years. Cuba will once again be an isolated island, deprived of important and influential American interaction simply because the President is more fascinated in living in the past, or perhaps more interested in scoring political points. 

Mr. Trump’s obsolete stance on Cuba is something that belongs to the annals of history, not a contemporary policy position. Adiós Cuba, been fun.  

Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a Democratic candidate for office in 2014 and 2016. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau

  • Gina Raimondo

    RI Governor

    I am deeply disappointed that the President has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that the Paris Agreement is about so much more than climate change. It’s about opportunity, stewardship and America’s standing as a global leader. 

    President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change. Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy. 

    We’ve set a goal to secure 1,000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020. Ocean State families and businesses are on the front lines fighting climate change. I will continue toward with the General Assembly and partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives, while creating new opportunities for our workforce in the process. 

     
  • Jim Langevin 

    U.S. Congressman

    President Trump’s ill-considered decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the future of our entire planet at risk. The withdrawal represents an abandonment of pledges to protect our environment and risks undermining the entire accord, which includes nearly every country on earth. In addition, the President’s action cedes Unites States leadership and means losing a seat at the table to negotiate global agreements in our country's best interest.

    The Obama Administration made significant progress toward slowing the rapidly warming climate by negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions on a global scale. Unwinding these commitments represents another assault by President Trump on the health of the public and the planet. His Administration continues to deny climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows this is an ongoing human-caused crisis.

    Rhode Island is on the front lines of sea level rise, and our citizens will ultimately pay the price for inaction today. Communities like my hometown of Warwick are particularly vulnerable to the storms and floods that come with climate change. Warming seas have chased our traditional catch out of our fisheries and threaten to decimate our beloved Ocean State coastline. Abandoning the Paris deal, the culmination of a multi-year effort by world leaders, is an abdication of our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.”

     
  • Sheldon Whitehouse

    U.S. Senator

    “Donald Trump and his children said just a few years ago that climate change was ‘irrefutable’ and its consequences ‘catastrophic and irreversible.’ They were right. There is no denying the growing threat of rising seas, warming global temperatures, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. 

    But we can still avoid the worst if we quickly reduce carbon emissions. That is why ignoring reality and leaving the Paris Agreement could do down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history, isolating the U.S. further after Trump’s shockingly bad European trip. 

    Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation. It’s Sad. 

    America’s biggest corporations and investors urged the President to stick with international efforts to address the climate threat. They and all of us will now have to proceed with a seriousness of purpose commensurate with the threat, knowing of this President’s grave defects. 

    If you haven’t joined an environmental group, join one. If your voice needs to be heard, get active. If you are a big corporation with good climate policies that has shied away from engaging politically, it’s time to engage. And if you’re a university that teaches climate science, it’s time to stand up for your scientists. Whoever you are, help end climate denial and take action.”

     
  • Jack Reed

    U.S. Senator

    “President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement is a blow to the environment that makes us a less secure nation. Our military, which spends every hour of every day thinking about how to protect Americans says climate change is a problem and a real threat multiplier. Indeed, climate change is an established part of the military’s threat and risk assessments.

    The United States should continue to be a leader when it comes to protecting the planet; instead, the President is abdicating this responsibility. President Trump is unwisely putting the United States alongside Syria and Nicaragua in declining to be part of the Paris agreement. 

    The American people deserve better.” 

     
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