The ideological differences between the Obama and Trump administrations are perhaps nowhere more starkly portrayed than in their respective policies toward the communist Castro regime in Cuba. Where former-President Barack Obama sought to normalize relations with Cuba, President Donald Trump intends to continue applying pressure on their oppressive government while taking measures to promote human rights on the island.
Accordingly, the White House is undoing a major pro-communist Cuba move by the Obama administration. As The Hill reports, the Trump-appointed ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, will vote on Wednesday against the UN resolution that condemns the US embargo on Cuba. Under Mr. Obama, the US abstained from the vote.
The international community is largely against the US embargo on Cuba, which seeks to limit the flow of money to the Castro regime known around the world for its political persecution and human rights abuses.
The Obama White House, through then-Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, broke tradition by abstaining from voting on the UN Resolution condemning the US over its Cuba embargo.
The US had repeatedly voted against the resolution for 25 years before the Obama administration abstained in 2016. The gesture was largely seen as former-President Obama’s way of signaling defiance to the Republican Congress that ignored his calls to lift the Cuban embargo.
At the time of the surprising abstention, Ambassador Power said: “After 50-plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we have chosen to take the path of engagement.” But the Trump administration is undoing Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy.
The vote against the resolution follows an announcement from the White House earlier this year that President Trump is reversing his predecessor’s approach to the communist nation. New rules under the Trump administration prohibit financial transactions that go toward the business arm of Cuba’s military.
As expected, Senate Democrats urged the White House to follow Mr. Obama’s lead and abstain from the vote. In a letter to the President, Democrat lawmakers argued the embargo is an “outdated Cold War policy” that should be removed.
“Our failed embargo against Cuba has been repeatedly and publicly condemned by the international community as ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba,” the Senators wrote. “The longer we maintain this outdated Cold War policy the more our international regional credibility suffers.” Meanwhile, the Trump administration remains committed to improving the condition of Cubans while also protecting American interests–and without benefiting the Castros.
Heather Nauert, the spokeswoman for the State Department, told the press how the vote against the resolution serves America’s interests with regard to Cuba. “The Trump administration policy gives greater emphasis in advancing human rights and democracy in Cuba, while maintaining engagement that serves US national interests, maintains engagement on areas of US national interest, ensures US engagement, benefits the Cuban people and ensures compliance with the statutory ban on tourism.”
President Trump is reversing some of former-President Obama’s pro-Cuba policies. Did President Trump’s surprise shock you?
Interestingly, the announcement comes as the US investigates mysterious medical injuries suffered by American embassy personnel in Havana, which included permanent hearing loss, balance problems, and difficulty sleeping.
Reports suggest the injuries are the result of sonic attacks targeting the American citizens working in the embassy compound. If the claim is true, it may be another factor driving the White House’s decision to seek a more hard-line approach to dealings with Cuba.