Newly-Minted Relations between the United States and Cuba at Risk

By Robin Wilson

The relationship between Cuba and the United States has been thawing, but there is uncertainty as to whether the Trump administration will strengthen ties with Cuba or act to reverse the relations forged by President Obama. It is unclear as to whether previous measures, such as travel restrictions, will be put back into place, or if President Trump will go the opposite route and end the embargo placed upon Cuba. Cuba has shown to be receptive to growing relations with America, but has also stated that it will not submit to any outside political pressure.

The change in American administrations is significant because it could revert U.S.-Cuba relations back to where they were decades previously. Economic and diplomatic ties were severed in 1959, followed by events such as Cuba being labeled as a state sponsor of terrorism, and the periodic strengthening of sanctions.[1] However, normal diplomatic relations were restored between the United States and Cuba by Raul Castro and Barack Obama on 20 July 2015, following 54 years of broken ties.[2] Henceforth, Cuba was removed from the state sponsor of terrorism list, and travel and trade restrictions on Cuba were eased.[3] In 2017, Obama repealed the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed all Cubans who reached America to pursue permanent residency.[4]

President Obama came into office pledging to write a new chapter with Cuba after decades of hostility, while President Trump came into office pledging to rescind the executive orders previously made. Days after Fidel Castro’s death, President Trump stated that he would “terminate the deal” between the United States and Cuba if Raul Castro and his regime did not change. White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus said that without political reform within Cuba, Trump would reverse U.S. policy on the state.[5] In return, Raul Castro replied by saying that Cuba will not make concessions involving its independence and sovereignty, which Trump’s advisors implied was their desire.[6] However, Castro also stated that the United States and Cuba can cooperate and grow their relationship.

Citizens of both the United States and Cuba anticipate any changes, such as policy reversal, that the Trump administration might instigate. After “wet foot, dry foot” was abolished during the Obama administration, hundreds of Cubans have been sent back to Cuba.[7] There are mixed reactions to this measure. Cuban authorities are happy about the change, because they believe that the promise of U.S. residency “encouraged dangerous journeys and people-trafficking.”[8] Many civilians are upset with the development, as they were either en route to the U.S. or had plans to attempt the journey in the future. However, current American policy towards immigration has been tumultuous, so there is the possibility that more people will be deported.

Business started picking up after the normalization between the two countries as well. Tourism has drastically increased, with up to ninety round-trip flights allowed to visit Cuba from America daily.[9] There are investments being put into the country outside of the tourist industry as well. With Raul Castro liberalizing the economy, many people see opportunities for economic relations, especially in the agricultural sector and in the trade of consumer goods.[10] However, in the past President Trump has mostly expressed distaste at the thought of investment in Cuba, which may indicate future decisions coming from the White House.[11]

Cuba seems to be open to more relations and business endeavors with America if their political rule is not questioned or pressured by the U.S. government. America’s stance is more ambiguous, with there being evidence for President Trump to take either a businessman role or a strict political role in future years. As it stands, relations between the American and Cuban people are growing under the present rulings, but are subject to change at any moment.


[1]Felter, C., Lee, B., Mcbride, J., & Renwick, D. (2017, February 3). U.S.-Cuba Relations. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

[2]Kornbluh, P. (2015, July 20). A new era of relations between Washington and Havana. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

[3]BBC. (2015, May 29). US removes Cuba from list of state sponsors of terror. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

[4]Associated Press in Washington. (2017, January 12). Obama ends ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy for Cuban immigrants. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

[5]Borger, J. (2016, November 28). Donald Trump threatens to freeze US-Cuba thaw days after Castro’s death. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

[6]Reuters in Havana. (2017, January 25). Raúl Castro: Cuba won’t compromise sovereignty to normalize US relations. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

[7]Marsh, S., & Acosta, N. (2017, February 18). Cuba says United States has deported 117 Cuban migrants since policy shift. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from


[9]Robles, F. (2016, November 15). Business or Politics? What Trump Means for Cuba. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

[10]Felter, C., Lee, B., Mcbride, J., & Renwick, D. (2017, February 3). U.S.-Cuba Relations. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

[11]Robles, F. (2016, November 15).