It’s not yet normalization but Joe Biden is softening Washington’s positions towards Cuba. The American president has eased certain measures that weighed on relations between the two countries. In particular, he reinstated the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which had been abolished by Donald Trump and which allows Americans of Cuban origin and Cubans living in the United States to visit their families. Travel by Americans for certain professional reasons will also be authorized. On the other hand, tourism is still not allowed. It is therefore an intermediate position, firmer than that of Barack Obama, but less extreme than that of Donald Trump.
“We will facilitate family visits to their loved ones in Cuba and those of authorized American travelers, who will be able to interact with the Cuban people, attend meetings and conduct research,” said White House spokesman Ned Price.
The United States also removes the limit of 1,000 dollars per quarter that could be sent to Cubans. Finally, donations to Cuban entrepreneurs will be possible. “With the goal of enabling families to support each other and entrepreneurs to grow their business,” added Ned Price.
A political issue
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden pledged to “reverse Donald Trump’s failed policies that hurt Cubans and their families.” However, the subject is sensitive, especially in Florida, where a large Cuban community lives. Long considered a swing-state, whose vote can tilt the presidential election, the “sunshine state” has clearly swung into the Republican camp and that of Donald Trump in the last elections. The Latino electorate had been sensitive to the speech of the former president, for whom Joe Biden and the Democrats threatened to make the United States a “socialist country”. By not going back on all the measures taken by his predecessor, the current American president is thus trying to spare this conservative electorate.
This slight reopening could nevertheless have significant economic consequences, as Cuba has been strongly affected by the crisis. The number of flights to the island is expected to increase and ties between the two countries are expected to strengthen. For Joe Biden, it is also a question of defusing part of the migration crisis: many Cubans have tried in recent months to cross the border with Mexico and have inflated the figures for illegal immigration. Washington is also seeking to beef up its consular staff in Cuba but faces a threat of a boycott of the next Americas summit, which is to be held in Los Angeles from June 6 to 10. While Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans should be excluded, several Latin American countries, including Mexico, are threatening to dry up the meetings.