• COMMENTARY: The Truth Behind Trump’s  Cuba Move

    President Donald Trump’s decision on changing the relationship with Cuba came under fire the moment he signed it. I had the opportunity to go on global television recently to speak about some of the objectives of his plan. The show I was on was broadcast in 117 countries with over 70 million listeners. The panel was biased against President Trump and to some extent, me.

    In hindsight, I wish I had more time to prepare, but I did ask some questions that most of the panelists refused to answer, even when I had a chance to follow up. I thought about some of the statements they made and did my homework. One point made was that the President’s new policy would damage tourism and trade. I asked how important was American tourism to the Cuban economy.  I finally got one person to admit that American tourism was not the highest input to the economy.

    The Cuban bureau of tourism reported that as of the end of 2015, the latest numbers they have compiled showed that American tourism is about 7% of all tourists in Cuba.  While the President’s restrictions may diminish the number of Americans going to Cuba, Americans can still go. Thus, while the number of Americans traveling to Cuba may drop, it will not go to zero. Trading Economics reports that for 2015, overall tourist arrivals were down about 12%.

    Another point was made that the President’s restrictions would impact Cuban exports to the United States. The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) reports that only one export deal to the United States was concluded during the two years since Obama opened up trade with Cuba. That deal’s first shipment came to the United States just before Trump took the oath of office. The deal was for charcoal in the amount of $17,000. This shipment of charcoal was the first export deal done in the last 50 years between the two nations.

    According to OEC, 51% of Cuba’s exports are agricultural, and imports exceed exports by $9.5 Billion. The inefficient agricultural industry in Cuba has led to the need of importing large amounts of beef and lard. Cuba now imports about 70–80% of all the food its people consume, and 80–84% of the food it provides via the public rations. The rationing program accounts for about a third of the food energy the average Cuban consumes.

    It has been stated many times from international government sources and from NGO’s worldwide that the average Cuban salary equates to only about $20 per month. As a communist country, the government provides a great many services and things to the people that allow Cuban citizens to stretch out the $20 per month. Much has been made that they have free healthcare in Cuba but if you don’t need it you still have to try and live on $20 per month.

    One of the reporters on the panel talked about tourism and Air B&B in Havana. If you go to the Air B&B website, you will find that in the city of Havana, with a population of more than 2 million people, there are 8 Air B&B locations on the site.

    The perfect example of how bad things are in Cuba is illustrated by Fidel Castro’s funeral car breaking down. It had to be pushed to the cemetery! I regret that the Cubans and other people who are opposed to the new Trump position are overselling the progress, when in reality, Cuba is still a poor Communist nation living in the 1950’s.

    Dan Perkins

    Dan Perkins is a novelist who has written a trilogy on a terrorist attack against the United States. The Brotherhood of the Red Nile series is available at Amazon.com. Mr. Perkins book web site is www.danperkins.guru.

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