Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Global

If Trump wants Americans out of Cuba, start by closing Gitmo

By Scott Taylor      

To be blunt, the only thing that outweighs the absurdity of the official White House statement on the new travel restrictions is the hypocrisy.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the new travel restrictions to Cuba are the result of the island nation ‘propping up’ American adversaries in Venezuela and Nicaragua. White House photograph by Andrea Hanks
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

OTTAWA—On June 4, the Trump administration made the surprise announcement that it was imposing a new set of travel restrictions on Americans wishing to visit Cuba. Effective almost immediately, group educational and cultural trips are no longer permitted, and perhaps most significantly, cruise ships, private yachts, and fishing vessels are no longer allowed to visit Cuban ports.

Following Fidel Castro’s revolution spanning from 1953 to 1959, the U.S. had imposed a total travel ban and a crippling trade embargo on Cuba. President Barack Obama relaxed those restrictions in 2016 when his administration opened the door for American tourists to visit the island. Since that juncture, the initial trickle of U.S. visitors has grown into a veritable flood. In the first four months of 2019, more than 250,000 Americans travelled to Cuba, and that figure does not include that of Cuban-Americans visiting family.

Last week’s announcement will have the intended consequence of financially punishing the Cuban tourist industry.

The reason for re-imposing the ban was explained to the media by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

To be blunt, the only thing that outweighs the absurdity of Mnuchin’s statement is the hypocrisy.

How exactly is the dirt-poor island nation of Cuba “propping up” America’s oil, gas, and gold-rich adversary in Venezuela?

If Cuba is a communist foothold where is the other foot?

Are we to expect bankrupt, embargoed North Korea to form an alliance with bankrupt, embargoed Cuba en route to a communist wave engulfing the planet?

As for the allegation of suppressing democratic processes, I’m guessing that Mnuchin is referring to the recent political upheaval in Venezuela. For their part, Cuba continues to recognize Nicolas Maduro as the ruling president of Venezuela. For the record, Maduro was elected in what has been called a flawed election in 2018. The major “flaw” in the exercise of democratic process was that the opposition boycotted the polls.

Since Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, was elected president in 1998, Venezuela has propped up the Castro regime in Cuba with the provision of heavily discounted oil and gas. So, it is no mystery why Cuba would support the status quo in Venezuela.

On the flipside of that, we have the Canadian-led Lima Group of 14 continental American countries, which has simply selected Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. There was no democratic process, as the charismatic, U.S.-educated Guaidó was simply chosen by a committee of 14 foreign countries, whose selection process was in turn ratified by the U.S.

As events have since unfolded, Guaidó remains an unwelcome choice even to the sanction-suffering Venezuelan people. Guaidó’s farcical attempt to overthrow Maduro by affecting a military coup on April 30 failed embarrassingly and could hardly be labelled as anything close to a democratic process.

Getting back to Cuba, if the Trump administration wants Americans out of there they should start by closing down their naval base and detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

The very existence of this U.S. military base on occupied foreign soil sorely undermines America’s denunciation of Russia doing the same thing in the Crimea. For the record, the U.S. took possession of this 116-square kilometre site in 1898 after capturing the island from the Spanish.

The U.S. set up a rental agreement with Cuban authorities to pay $2,000 in gold coins per year for the use of the land. In 1934, they raised that rent price to $4,085 and dropped the proviso that it is paid in gold. A simple cheque will do.

When Castro seized power in 1959, he demanded that the Americans vacate Cuban soil.

Instead the U.S. have continued to convince themselves that this is not an illegal occupation because every year they dutifully send a cheque for the $4,085 made payable to the “Treasurer General of the Republic.”

The cheques go un-cashed as that bureaucratic position was eliminated when Castro took power.

Nevertheless, if we are to believe Mnuchin, Cuba is the meddler in our Western Hemisphere.

Scott Taylor is the editor and publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine.

The Hill Times

Explore, analyze, understand
Democracy, Terrorism and Killer Robots: Embassy News covers the 2015 Halifax International Security Forum
The Halifax International Security Forum is one of the world’s biggest gatherings of defence and security leaders.

Get the book
Election cybersecurity: a comprehensive look at the threats and solutions ahead of 2019
Election cybersecurity concerns in Canada.

Get the book
Related Policy Briefings
Defence Policy Briefing
Short and informative analyses on policy challenges that bring background and recommendations to policymakers, journalists and the general public.

Read policy briefing
Environment
Short and informative analyses on policy challenges that bring background and recommendations to policymakers, journalists and the general public.

Read policy briefing

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Nearly 100 new MPs offer new face of Parliament, including 60 in flipped seats

In many ways the incoming Parliament looks quite similar to its predecessor, with 240 returning MPs, the same number of MPs who are Indigenous or a visible minority, and 10 more women.

Rise of advance voting raising questions about impact on, and of, campaigns: experts

Almost 4.8-million Canadians voted at advance polls this year, according to Elections Canada estimates, a roughly 30.6 per cent increase over 2015, accounting for roughly one-quarter of all ballots cast this election.

Watchdog’s proposed minority Parliament rules ‘appalling,’ says legal expert

News|By Mike Lapointe
Democracy Watch says Governor General should speak with all party leaders before deciding who can try forming government, but Emmett Macfarlane says the confidence convention is the linchpin of the parliamentary system.

McKenna may be moved to new cabinet role after four years implementing Grits’ climate policies, say politicos

News|By Neil Moss
Catherine McKenna's 'tenure in environment would have prepared her well for any other kind of responsibility the prime minister may assign,' says former environment minister Jean Charest.

‘They went with what they knew’: Politicos react to Election 43

'If anybody should've won a majority, it should've been Trudeau. He didn't, and it's his to wear,' says CBC columnist Neil Macdonald of the Oct. 21 election results.

‘A clear mandate’: Trudeau wins second term, with voters handing Liberals a minority

News|By Beatrice Paez
Though not improbable, his victory was not inevitable. It brings an end to a nail-biting, gruelling 40-day slog that has exposed deepening rifts across the country.

McKenna wins re-election in Ottawa Centre, trumpets voters’ support for climate fight

News|By Neil Moss
'I’m so relieved,' Catherine McKenna said, about continuing with the Liberal climate change plan.

Election 2019 was a ‘campaign of fear,’ say pollsters

'There may well be a message to this to the main parties, that slagging each other will only take you so far,' says Greg Lyle.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.