WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
4 Mar 2019 | Press Release

Tightening U.S. Trade Embargo on Cuba Sets a Damaging Precedent

Washington, DC—The Trump administration announced today it is tightening its trade embargo against Cuba by now allowing lawsuits against a limited list of Cuban businesses and government entities (most of which have no assets in the United States) using properties seized in the aftermath of the 1959 revolution. In thirty days, the administration will decide whether to expand the list, and potentially make U.S. and foreign investors in Cuba subject to suits. In response to the announcement, Geoff Thale, Vice President for Programs at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), issued the following statement:

“With this announcement, the Trump administration sent threatening messages to countries and businesses that invest in Cuba. The fact that the administration will review this decision in thirty days creates significant uncertainty for U.S. and foreign businesses about their future investments in Cuba. All this uncertainty and chaos is fundamentally damaging to U.S. interests in a more open Cuba, as well as our business interests.

“Trump’s foreign policy seems aimed at punishing Cuba when it’s in our own best interests to be normalizing this relationship. At a time when Cuba is undergoing an important process of gradual internal reform, the U.S. government shouldn’t be upping hostilities. All this does is reinforce a siege mentality on the island and strengthens the argument of those within the Cuban government who want to resist internal reform. We should be pursuing a smart strategy that emphasizes engagement and a normal relationship with Cuba, which might allow us to talk with the Cuban government about foreign policy concerns. Instead, we are pushing a vindictive approach that punishes the Cuban people and creates incredible chaos and uncertainty for U.S. and Cuban businesses, which complicates relations with our allies.”