On 7 November 2015, Venezuela-based teleSUR reported that 84-year-old H.E. Raul Castro, President of the Republic of Cuba, will retire on 24 February 2018, upon completion of his current term in office:
“I will not become the great-grandfather nor the great-grandson as then the Cubans would get bored of me… I will step down on February 24, 2018,” President Castro said, as quoted by El Financiero.
The Obama Administration’s new and revised regulations issued on 18 September 2015 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of Commerce and Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce resulted in an evisceration of legislative efforts to change statutes and regulations and policy using the United States Congress; and a reallocation of funding resources away from Washington, DC-based advocacy organizations working in support of legislative efforts
United States-based companies are again viewing the “end the embargo” landscape during the remaining months of the Obama Administration as exclusively a focused exercise upon the issuance of new regulations and the revision of existing regulations.
There is little value in funding legislative efforts when there is unlikely to be legislation enacted into law before 20 January 2017. Some advocacy groups have begun tacking their focus (while blaming the Obama Administration) from the 114th United States Congress to the 115th United States Congress and to the next occupant of The White House; that’s not going to work- too many unknowns and too few resources better directed elsewhere. Members of Congress may see their efforts to obtain contributions from United States-based companies lessen or evaporate.
There are unlikely to be changes in United States law relating to the Republic of Cuba until at minimum 2018, the retirement of President Castro as that moment fulfills a provision of the Libertad Act which conditions a government which does not include President Castro or former President Fidel Castro. This could change, but that would require the government of the Republic of Cuba to not only authorize, but embrace initiatives offered by the Obama Administration.
Another intended or unintended consequence of the 18 September 2015 regulatory changes was Members of Congress and advocacy groups reversed their pre-September 2015 mantra that the United States must do more to obtain more from the government of Cuba and re-adopted the 2001 through 2014 perspective that the government of the Republic of Cuba needs change its policies and its laws and its regulations to authorize United States-based companies to commercially engage; and reverse the decline of food product and agricultural product cash-only imports permitted by the TSREEA- made more efficient through regulatory changes and revisions since December 2014.
In October 2015 at the United Nations in New York City, H.E. Bruno Rodriguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, said “We should not confuse reality with wishful thinking or expressions of goodwill,”… “We can only judge based on facts.” Since December 2014, there has been “no tangible, substantial modification.”
If the government of Cuba continues to respond in this way to each overture from the Obama Administration, the result will be a continued period of expectation, rather than implementation.