President Biden is continuing the Cuba policy of his predecessor despite campaign promises to move closer to normalization with Havana. According to a report to The Hill, the Biden administration might be keeping Cuba under embargo so Democrats can get more votes in the Miami area.
Democrats had traditionally done very well in Miami-Dade County. In 2016, Trump won the state of Florida, but Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade by nearly 30 percent. In 2020, President Biden won the county, but only by about 7.5 percent. While there are many factors, Democratic strategists are attributing the shift in voting to Trump’s hardline Cuba policy since the Miami area is home to many Cuban-Americans.
“You have to ask yourself: what do we get for going back to the pre-Trump approach to Cuba?” a Florida Democratic strategist told The Hill. “The answer is nothing. The Cuba issue doesn’t play anywhere in the country but Florida, and here I think it’s a liability to say ‘let’s normalize relations with Cuba.’ It’s not going to win you any votes, but it will lose you votes.”
The Obama administration took steps to normalize with Cuba but never fully lifted the decades-old trade embargo, so the steps were easy to reverse. Throughout his term, President Trump gradually re-imposed the sanctions and travel restrictions eased by Obama. In one of the Trump administration’s final foreign policy moves, the US re-designated Havana as a “state-sponsor of terror.”
While on the campaign trail, Biden vowed to reverse Trump’s Cuba policy and take steps towards normalization with Cuba. But since he came into office, the White House has repeatedly said Cuba is not a priority for the president. “A Cuba policy shift or additional steps is currently not among the President’s top foreign policy priorities,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in April.
In a sign that there will be no changes in Cuba policy, the Biden administration in May renewed the Trump administration’s determination that Cuba is “not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts.”