For US-Cuba policy watchers, a nugget yesterday. The media, lobbyists, and other groups are reading too many of the policy tea leaves on what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, or did not say, about Cuba yesterday at the daily press briefing.
Here is Spicer’s exact response to the US-Cuba policy question yesterday:
“We are in the midst of a full review of all U.S. policies towards Cuba. The President is committed to an agenda of ensuring human rights for all citizens throughout the world. And as we review those policies in Cuba, that will be forefront in their policy discussions, but there is nothing that we have on that front at this point.”
Notice Spicer said, “full review,” not partial review, nor focused on just on issue review, but a “full review”. And that is all he had to say about U.S.-Cuba policy. Read the transcript.
US-Cuba policy is multifaceted and includes a variety of matters including fugitives from US law (such as U.S. cop killers); harboring people who have killed Americans (such as Cuban military officials who murdered the Brothers to the Rescue pilots); Cuba’s support of terrorism in the Americas and elsewhere; drug trafficking; the unpaid billions that Cuba owes American families for stolen property, as well as the violations of fundamental freedoms (i.e., the longer term but important human rights issue). And there is more.
Remember that Trump has said many times that he does not like to “telegraph” to the world what he is going to do. For now, its just a “full review”. Anecdotally, and based purely on discussions with Cuban resistance leaders in Cuba – the men and women on the front lines of change – they like this approach and are hoping that whatever is done, it is done without much fanfare and focuses more on actionable things that can be done to support the future leaders of Cuba, people who are in the government (the reformers) and out of the government (the resistance, opposition leaders).
Whatever form the Trump administration opts to give U.S.-Cuba policy, if they focus on American interests first, it will be light years better than anything Republicans or Democrats have done in decades with respect to U.S.-Cuba policy. In fact, if done with the rest of the Western Hemisphere in mind, and factors in issues such as radical Islamic terrorism, corruption, money laundering, illegal drugs, and related security issues, Trump’s U.S.-Cuba policy could manage the matter using the statutory transition roadmap that has been on the books with respect to Cuba since the late 1990s.