Why We Should Continue to Engage with Cuba

While the United States continues to make progress in establishing opportunities for trade and economic growth with other countries around the world, we must not ignore the same opportunities presented only 100 miles away from our border, with our neighbor Cuba.

Recent reports suggesting the Trump administration may roll back progress made between America and Cuba have raised concern among American and Cuban businesses, who have just started to experience the benefits derived from the lifting of economic barriers between the two countries.

In 2014, under the Obama administration, the decision to reestablish America’s relationship with Cuba marked a historic achievement for diplomacy, after a 50-year trade hiatus with the communist nation. The new actions allow American citizens to travel freely to the island, therefore opening many doors for both the Cuban and American tourism industry. It also has generated agricultural trade between the two countries and gave American business people a chance to explore investment opportunities within the island.

Since then, there has been a significant increase in the number of Americans visiting the island, while many Cuban entrepreneurs have taken opportunities to expand services provided to these tourists. In fact, in 2016 many of these entrepreneurs expressed, in a letter to President Trump, the many benefits U.S. reforms have provided their businesses and the Cuban economy.

Ending this relationship would not only hurt Cuba. A threat to this relationship could present a significant loss for American investments in the island as well as a loss of American jobs. A recent report from the advocacy group, Engage Cuba, estimates that limiting commercial relationships between the U.S and Cuba could actually cost the American economy $6.6 billion dollars, and account for a loss of 12,000 jobs.

The democracy and human rights that are still needed in Cuba will not come as a result of cutting back on the progress already made. If the U.S really wants to continue to benefit economically from our relationship with Cuba and increase the opportunities for the Cuban people, we should reduce economic barriers and further diplomatic relations. This will provide a better opportunity for growth that can only bring continuing prosperity to both countries.

Ainsley Shea