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  December 20th, 2016 | Written by

Modernizing U.S.-Cuba Relations

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  • Enact new legislation on U.S. Cuba sanctions.
  • Terminate U.S. sanctions on Cuba once the two countries enter into a final agreement.
  • Levy targeted sanctions against Cuban officials and agencies involved in repression and human rights abuses.

Since United States President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced a historic thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations in December 2014, both the U.S. and Cuban governments have undertaken a series of steps to normalize diplomatic relations and to expand economic ties that had been curtailed since the early 1960s.

In a new report from the Center on Global Energy Policy, author Peter Harrell argues that President-elect Trump and Congress need to enact new legislation concerning U.S. sanctions on Cuba. According to Harrell’s proposal, the legislation would authorize the president to suspend and terminate all elements of existing U.S. sanctions on Cuba once the two countries enter into a final agreement to settle U.S. claims. The proposal would also establish a new sanctions regime that would levy targeted sanctions against specific Cuban officials and government agencies and instrumentalities involved in repression and human rights abuses.

Harrell would continue to bar sales of U.S. goods to the Cuban military and security services and would restrict U.S. companies from investing in or doing business the Cuban military or security services. The proposal would also establish a new, straightforward reporting requirement, mandating that that U.S. companies engaging in large-scale investments in Cuba provide a public annual report about their corporate social responsibility policies on the island. It would also authorize the president to terminate the embargo if a new democratic government comes to power in Cuba and provide a five-year sunset on all U.S. sanctions on Cuba

The report indicates that reforms to create and implement modernized U.S. sanctions on Cuba have the potential to enable additional positive social and economic changes in Cuba, provide greater economic benefits to both countries, bring sanctions into better alignment with current U.S. interests, and harmonize sanctions on Cuba with sanctions the United States imposes on most other countries subject to U.S. sanctions.

During the presidential election campaign, President-elect Donald Trump supported diplomacy with Cuba. “Opening with Cuba is fine,” he said in September 2015, but he criticized President Obama for not making a better deal.