I seriously believe that President Trump will soon make a move towards normalizing relations with the government of Cuba. While watching Trump’s historic meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, I first mentioned this theory to friends as a joke. I soon realized that there are several reasons to now believe that a deal is in the works.
Regardless of how one feels about President Trump, it is clear that one of his major goals has been to eliminate the legacy of President Obama. I personally liked some of Obama’s executive actions, and disapproved of others. If you look at this list of goals objectively, you can see that Trump has reversed (or tried to reverse) all of them. It would be the ultimate insult to Obama if President Trump reaches an understanding with Cuba. Trump could claim, “Obama screwed up normalization, but I negotiated it successfully!” And even though 5 years ago, President Raul Castro said he would step down early in 2018, most of Trump’s base of supporters don’t know that, or don’t care, so Trump can claim that he “got rid of the commie Cuban Castro Brothers.”
Trump is unpredictable, and he likes to appear erratic to keep his adversaries confused. Normalization would be consistent with this behavior. Trump has been interested in Cuban real estate for decades. In 1998 he sent representatives to explore business opportunities on the island. They even prepared sketches of what a Trump Tower Havana would look like, even though this research could have been considered illegal at the time by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Because of today’s family-separation crisis along the Texas border, Trump may decide he finally wants to or needs to promote a cause that is actually supported by most Americans—an end to the embargo against Cuba. This goal is also advocated by a majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami. Many of them previously invested with relatives in Cuban real estate and businesses following Obama’s 2014 opening. This was followed by a sharp decrease in property values after Trump’s speech last year, which discouraged—but did not prohibit—Americans from traveling to Cuba. These actions artificially produced bargain prices for properties and businesses that will eventually be worth many times today’s values. It’s probably a coincidence, but this sounds like a plan straight out of Trump’s bestseller: The Art of the Deal.
While Trump has purposely alienated our best allies such as Canada and the UK, for whatever reasons he has been cozying up to powerful dictators who are considered by most Americans to be our competitors and even potential enemies. Think about a scale of 1-10, where “10” is the most evil tyrant imaginable. China’s Xi could be rated “6,” Russia’s Putin could be an “8,” Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman could be a “9,” and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un would definitely be a “10.” The former chief diplomat to Cuba during the Carter and Reagan administrations, Wayne Smith, rated Fidel Castro as a “3” on the scale of dictatorial tyrants. Fidel’s brother Raul, who assumed power in 2006, was less repressive, so let’s assign him a “2.”
And now, the Castros are gone, much to the delight of the declining number of radical Cuban exiles in Miami. Cuba now has a younger, more moderate and pragmatic President. Miguel Diaz-Canel appears to be intelligent enough to realize that if he simply praises Trump, and offers him oceanfront property to develop, an end to the embargo might be negotiated.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach is only an hour from Havana by air and less than a day’s cruise by yacht. A meeting somewhere in the Caribbean would logistically be many times easier than Trump’s 16-hour flight to Singapore to deal with Rocket Man. Can you just imagine the publicity and video footage that could be produced if Trump eventually visits Diaz-Canel at Revolutionary Square and announces and end to the embargo? Of course, Congress would have to approve. No worries–the Democrats would approve enthusiastically. Most of the Republicans would do whatever Trump orders them to do.
A good time for President Trump to go to Cuba would be in October, just before the November U.S. elections. (By the way, the Russian Embassy in Miramar would be a terrific, ultra-secure site for Trump to meet up again with his BFF Vladimir Putin.)
Massive Russian Embassy in Miramar, west of Havana
Trump could actually learn to appreciate Cuba as a potential American ally. Most Cubans, who have relatives in nearby south Florida, are very America-focused. They closely follow our movies, music, television programs, and sports teams—they even have Super Bowl parties! Unlike so many dead-beat countries around the globe that only want U.S. dollars handed to their dictator-leaders, Cuba simply wants American investors and cash-paying tourists. Most Cubans would also greatly appreciate it if the United States government would finally abandon the idea of regaining control of their beautiful Caribbean island.
My theory may seem far-fetched at a time when travel to Cuba is officially discouraged by our government. Various current articles about Cuba in newspapers and travel magazines discuss declining American interest and half-filled flights. In the last 12 months, Spirit, Frontier, and Alaska Airlines have cancelled all services to Cuba. The future of airline service appears gloomy and hopeless. But consider this: United, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines are quietly adding flights to their Havana schedules, beginning this fall—30 more flights a week! Why would CEO’s of these companies even consider such a move? Probably because they have received leaked insider information, and probably because they’ve read The Art of the Deal. ¡Viva Cuba Libre!