I think many of over emphasizing out own economic importance as foreign visitors to Cuba. Let’s look at hard facts about economy and cash flow.
The elephant in the room is Venezuela, Cuba’s economic lifeline from all the doctors they rent from Cuba. Venezuela is teetering on bankruptcy with an economy that can survive only will oil, their only real source of revenue, worth over $100 a barrel and knowledgeable long term predictions are a price half that.
There are some 20,000 doctors rotating in and out of Venezuela for a 2 year mission. They receive a few hundred dollars a month in living expenses while in Venezuela then a then a multi thousand dollar payout when they return to Cuba. But I don’t see where these multi thousand dollar payouts upon return will come from in the future. It is not sitting in some escrow account. Neither Venezuela nor Cuba will have future earnings to pay for it. When those big payouts get delayed, the bottom will fall out.
While leasing out doctors is a $7-8 Billion a year industry for Cuba, tourism brings in $2.8 billion. While this is more than sugar, tobacco, medicine, and nickel exports combined, there are expenses associated with these. Estimates are that sugar, tobacco, medicine, nickel, AND tourism only end up generating $1.1 billion in net income after all expenses.
Then there is the other elephant in the room. It could involve Trump. That is the $6.6 billion in foreign remittances received directly by Cuban citizens from family and friends abroad. This is $3.5 billion in cash and $3.1 billion in merchandise. And there are no offsetting expenses.
Some here may have visions of US - Cuba flights being full of happy tourists heading to Cuba. The reality is the overwhelming majority of passengers have always been and still are Cuban Americans returning home to visit family. Republic de Cuba pasaportes far out number US passports and tourist visas tucked inside. Almost everyone on the flight is speaking Spanish, checking 100 pounds of duffle bags containing clothing and merchandise, AND carrying an average of $3,200-3,500 in US $100 bills.
In fact, cash remittances from abroad are DOUBLE the total salaries of all Cuban workers. Who cares if you earn $15 or $25 a month when Uncle Luis in Miami is sending you $100 a month just to help out.
So Trump could cut back or really toughen up on enforcing the infamous 12 reasons to visit Cuba so long as he did not touch family visits and it would not have much impact on passenger loads on flights.
US investment in Cuba? Could Trump cut that back? The reality is that above the table investment is almost non-existent. While the US government loosened up the regulations, the Cuban government never did. Remember all the news about the US government approving building the tractor factory in Mariel? Did anyone notice that it never happened because the Cuban government would not approve it. And the terms of that deal were so favorable to the Cuban government that it was crazy but it was still rejected. Now there is a lot of hidden investment by US citizens in Cuba. Many of new paladars and casa particulars have silent partners of family members in the US. But Trump cannot impact those since they are already illegal.
Trump is a big proponent of foreign trade. And Cuba is a big export market for southern US agriculture who ship a major portion of chickens consumed in Cuba. And, a big export market for the US midwest who exports a lot of grain to Cuba. Cubans eat of lot of rice much of which used to come from the US. Now it comes from Vietnam simply because Vietnam is nicer to Cuba than the US. Trump knows if he got tough with Cuba that the US could lose a lot of chicken and grain exports.
So I simply cannot see where Trump can afford to do much vis-a-vis Cuba that will have a significant impact on Cuba or the US economically. Now Trump has said things in the past that did not make sense but so far he has not actually done anything. We must place reliance on the fact that he is not stupid.
Now if anyone can step back and look at the economic realities and explain why the Cuban government is making such a big deal about the US embargo and how those few anti-Cuban US politicians believe the US has some negative impact on Cuba, please let me know. I am baffled.