Consequences of Obama’s New Cuba Policy

The Castro regime is re-asserting its close relationship with and allegiance to Cuba’s old allies, Russia, Iran and Venezuela. Agreements between Castro and Putin call for more visits by Russian navy and air force to Cuba. Raul Castro continues to support Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well as to maintain his commitment to the survival of the Maduro regime in Venezuela.


By Jaime Suchlicki | October 19, 2015


Putin visits Cuba in 2014, forgives Soviet-era debt/Politico

Now that the dust has settled somewhat from the storm produced by the Obama administration’s new policy toward Cuba, it is possible to analyze some of its consequences.

The most obvious ones are permitting more American tourists to visit Cuba; allowing Cuban-Americans to increase remittances; increasing the revenue of the Cuban government; and removing Cuba from the list of countries supporting terrorism. Expectations on the island have grown that these policies will bring more changes and increase prosperity.

Yet, there are other more significant, long term consequences. First, concerned about the possibility of unrest and U.S. subversion in the island, General Raul Castro’s administration has increased substantially repression against dissidents and the population in general. The aim is to maintain complete control and to prevent civil disobedience. Repression is likely to intensify and to continue.

Second, there is a growing fear in Cuba that the new U.S. policy will lead to the end, or at least the modification, of the Cuban Adjustment Act. This is producing an urgency to leave the island. Out migration by sea and thru third countries is increasing. This is likely to accelerate.

Third, the divide between Cuban whites and blackson the island is increasing. Remittances from Cuban-Americans, mostly white, go to their friends and relatives in Cuba. Cuban blacks receive little from abroad. Tourism has little impact on areas prominently black in eastern Cuba. The perception among blacks that the Castro government cares little about them, and the reality that the government hierarchy, both military and Communist Party, is primarily white, is increasing a sense of alienation and frustration. This unintended consequence of U.S. policy does not bode well for Cuba’s future.

Finally, the Castro regime is re-asserting its close relationship with and allegiance to Cuba’s old allies, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea. Agreements between Castro and Putin call for more visits by Russian navy and air force to Cuba. Raul Castro continues to support Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well as to maintain his commitment to the survival of the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

Obviously, U.S. policies are not moving the Castro regime in a desirable direction. As a matter of fact, the regime is becoming more entrenched and inflexible in the face of American overtures and policies. This is likely to continue as the regime prepares for succession to a new, younger military cadre led by close members of the Castro clan. Raul Castro has been promoting his son Col. Alejandro Castro Espin and his son in law General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez Callejas, as key players in his succession plans. What is not in his plans are closer relations with the U.S., a political transition, or respect for human rights.


Jaime Suchlicki is Professor and Director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami.  He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition; Mexico: From Montezuma to NAFTA, now in its second edition and the recently published Breve Historia de Cuba. Prof. Suchlicki is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.