Fidel Castro died late Friday night and it’s never too early to think how this may affect United States foreign relations towards the still-Communist island nation.
Many in the Cuban-American community publicly criticized Obama for opening diplomatic relations with the Castro Communist regime. Make no mistake, that regime is still in place, with Castro’s younger brother Raul running things the past several years as Fidel’s health declined.
Will President Trump change course? Trump and some of his advisers have encouraged communication with the leaders of other regimes considered (at least in some quarters) oppressive or hostile to Western-style human rights, like Russia or Turkey to name a few.
Might it be possible that a Trump Administration would see opportunity in Castro’s death to further open relations and permit trade with Cuba and investment in the island nation? I think this is absolutely the case, for two reasons.
Trump appears by nature to be very singularly-minded, and very disciplined in that approach; he has a “bottom line” (it may be profits, it may be Trump-brand-building, it may be ego) and whatever it really is in his head, he sticks to that as his one goal.
Trump likely won’t reverse Obama’s move to open Cuba. He probably will accelerate Obama’s policies here, and turn a blind eye to its human rights abuses as long as he perceives that as being beneficial economically (at least to certain interests). These economic and power interests are nowhere near sufficiently balanced out by what prior Administrations and certainly Republican Administrations would consider a negative. Trump may view the Cuban-American constituency as a group whose support he does not need, and which is unlikely to move support to a challenger in 2020 from a Democratic Party likely to shift even more sharply to the Far Left.
Both business and politics make use of the acute measurement of leverage. The Cuban-American community does not have it at the moment. So the seas are wide open for Trump to move with lightning speed to open up Cuba for investment, for tourism, for all sorts of economic growth, and likely without any serious concern for human rights for the Cuban people remaining on the island.
Sadly, continued repression may be just another cost of doing business. Human rights will be collateral damage.