While President Donald Trump was elected in large part to reverse the policies of his predecessor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) thinks there is one area where former President Obama actually got it right: normalizing foreign relations with Cuba.
“For over half a century, we have had an embargo with Cuba,” Paul wrote in a Reason Magazine op/ed published on Tuesday. “Not only did the Castros survive it, but they milked it for everything it was worth. As the only source of information on the island for decades, they stoked the nationalism of those Cubans who remained in Cuba to blame America for any of their shortages, instead of the true culprit: socialism.”
One of President Obama’s signature achievements was opening up relations with Cuba, and he even visited the communist country last year. Trump will not be doing a complete about face from Obama’s Cuban policies. He will not be removing the American embassy in Cuba, and will not be imposing any restrictions on items that Americans can take out of the island nation–including their prized cigars. However, Trump will be ramping up sanctions, using course rhetoric, and applying other restrictions that could strain relations between the countries.
“They made a deal with a government that spread violence and instability in the region and nothing they got, think about it, nothing they got, they fought for everything and we just didn’t fight hard enough, but now, those days are over,” Trump said. “We now hold the cards. The previous administration’s easing of restrictions of travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime.”
Sen. Paul disagrees strongly with Trump’s assessment of Obama’s deal, and warns against the current path that Trump is following regarding Cuba.
“We can’t spread democracy through force, as we have shown time and again in our recent foreign policy,” Paul wrote. “But we can model capitalism to the world, export it through our people and goods, and win the debate without one bullet being fired… Let’s see what Cubans will choose when they come face to face with iPhones, modern cars, and tourists with fistfuls of dollars buying Cuban services and goods.”