Nation-states can be more trouble than they’re worth. For the Middle East, federalism, soft-partition, enclaves, and charter cities offer non-state paths to peace and prosperity.

The March Public Forum topic: “Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.”

Consider the most economically-free place in the world, Hong Kong, is not a state and was long a colonial charter city before handed over (or back) to communist China in 1997.

The Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World: 2016 Annual Report: 2016 (September 16, 2016), is relevant for both the China policy topic and the Israel/Palestine two-state topic. The reports top-rated countries:Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 4.07.10 PM

Hong Kong and Singapore, once again, occupy the top two positions. The other nations in the top 10 are New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia and the United Kingdom, tied for 10th.

Small and independent formerly British colonial territories Hong Kong, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates (“Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain”), plus New Zealand, Canada, Australia make up the top ten. Also in the top ten is Switzerland, an association of mostly-independent and diverse cantons. (However, not all former British colonies are wealthy or economically free, and the success of many today should not be taken as a defense of British colonialism.)

What lessons for Israel, Palestine, and the U.S. can be found in these diverse economic success stories of charter cities, federal republics, and common law traditions?

The people of Hong Kong were poor in the 1950s, as were people living in Palestine. Through the 1950s, millions of impoverished refugees arrived in Hong Kong, escaping from communist China.

Across the Middle East as in Asia, World War II disrupted and impoverished millions. Hundreds of thousands fled or were expelled from Palestine in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Then hundreds of thousands in long-established Jewish communities in Arab countries fled or were expelled.

Over the decades since 1950, Hong Kong residents have prospered, as have residents of Israel, but the economy of the Palestinian territories and its residents have not prospered.

Hong Kong’s charter with England protected international trade and investment, and taxes stayed low. Economic freedom and a great port enabled Hong Kong to grow rapidly prosperous. Could similar charter cities and economic freedom policies have enabled Palestinians and others in the Middle East to similarly prosper?

Turmoil and violence in Syria today turns on the Alawite minority’s long political and military control. Syrian could have been a much more prosperous place had the Alawites been able to keep their enclave independent from Syria. “Syria’s Ruling Alawite Sect” (New York Times, June 14, 2011). The article was written before the Syrian conflict erupted from Arab Spring protests, and as part of explaining Alawite history mentions:

During the French Mandate, there was even a short-lived Alawite “state” based in and around Latakia, created in 1922. As William L. Cleveland explained in his “History of the Modern Middle East,” the Alawite state was “administratively separate from Syria until 1942.”

EuropeMap1444Enclaves, charter cities, and other administrated territories have a long history across Europe as well. Just check out a map of Europe in 15th Century.

Political decentralization invites conflicts, but also open political competition where families and businesses can relocate to better governed territories. For an introduction to political decentralization, the Hanseatic League, and the potential of charter cities, see “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty,” (The Atlantic, July/August, 2010):

[Economist and entrepreneur] Paul Romer [is] trying to help the poorest countries grow rich—by convincing them to establish foreign-run “charter cities” within their borders. Romer’s idea is unconventional, even neo-colonial—the best analogy is Britain’s historic lease of Hong Kong. And against all odds, he just might make it happen.

Could the West Bank be a candidate for a charter city, perhaps administrated by an Arab country like Dubai or UAE?

In the Arab world, similar Hong Kong size countries have flourished without full statehood. Consider the colonial history of UAE, discussed in “The United Arab Emirates – A Product of British Imperialism?” (British Scholar Society, January 16, 2012)

Until 1971, the seven shaikhdoms that were to form the UAE had been known as Trucial States and been part of Great Britain’s informal empire in the Persian Gulf. British power in the area had been based on an interdependent system of military presence, formal treaty relations with the Trucial States, Bahrain and Qatar, as well as informal political influence on the local rulers.

——-
According to the Economic Freedom of the Arab World: 2016 Annual Report (Fraser Institute, December 3, 2016), Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the most economically free nations in the Arab world. From the Introduction:

Economic Freedom of the Arab World aims to provide a reliable and objective metric of economic policy throughout the Arab World. It measures the extent to which citizens of the nations of the Arab League are able to make their own economic decisions without limitations imposed by the government or by crony elites. The report provides sound empirical measurement of economic policy that can distinguish between phony reform that leaves economic and political power in the hands of crony elites, and real reform that creates new prosperity, entrepreneurship, and jobs, by opening business and work opportunities for everyone no matter whom they know.

Arab and Islamic societies have a rich trading tradition, one that celebrates markets open even to the humblest members of society. Economic freedom is consistent with that proud history and provides a path to a more prosperous and freer tomorrow. Economic freedom is simply the ability of individuals and families to take charge of their fate and make their own economic decisions—to sell or buy in the marketplace without discrimination, to open or close a business, to work for whom they wish or hire whom they wish, to receive investment or invest in others. As discussed later in this report, economic freedom has a proven fact-based record of improving the lives of people, liberating them from dependence, and leading to other freedoms and democracy. Unfortunately, many in the Arab world believe their nations have already gone through a period of free-market reform and that it hasn’t worked. This misconception deprives many of an economic alternative and vision for the future.

For Public Forum debaters considering past U.S. government pressure for a “two-state solution,” a focus on economic freedom provides an reform opportunity. It is true that Israel’s military control restricts freedom of movement and trade throughout the Palestinian territories, and Israeli officials and supporters insist this is to reduce possible terrorist attacks. But there are also major restrictions on doing business enforced by regulations and corruption of Palestinian officials.

Again, criticizing Palestinian officials is not to defend Israeli restrictions on economic freedom. But consider “Terrorists & Kleptocrats: How Corruption is Eating the Palestinians Alive,” (The Tower, June, 2014). (The Tower is Israel-based.)

By myopically focusing on “yes,” the U.S. is ensuring the Palestinian Authority will remain corrupt and therefore illegitimate in the eyes of the Palestinian people. My experience confirms Schanzer’s argument. The PA is an incredibly corrupt organization. So is its dominant party, Fatah. Together they form a motley crew of elites seeking to maintain power and the attenuating trappings, willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their power and position are not lost.

The 2016 Economic Freedom of the Arab World report rates the Palestinian Territories. Here is summary (page 23):

The Palestinian Territories overall score remained 7.3 and it stayed in 8th place. The Palestinian Territories maintained the same rank (5th) and score (7.7) in the size of government area. The territories’ score in rule of law declined to 5.7 from 6.2, coming in 13th, down from 10th last year. The Palestinian Territories had a score of 9.1 in sound money, up from 9.0, and ranked 11th, up from 12th. In the area of freedom to trade internationally, the Palestinian Territories scored 7.7, down from 7.8, with a rank of 8th, down from 6th. The rank in regulation remained the same as last year at 12th, with a score of 6.1, same as last year.

 

Comparing economic freedom in the PA to the freer and more prosperous UAE, Jordan, and Bahrain, the top three Arab countries, gives direction to reform proposals that the U.S. could encourage.

The report focuses on economic freedom’s role in increasing prosperity, creating jobs, and reducing poverty. …

Hong Kong and Palestine; what makes a country?” (REB Research Blog), offers some history of colonial Hong Kong and Palestine and a discussion of international agreements on what makes a county.

Ending the Cuba trade embargo would shift sugar production back to Cuba and away from ecologically fragile lands in the U.S. “Protect the Everglades, not sugar farmers,” (Florida Sun Sentinel, Feb 16, 2017) argues:

Unfortunately, the most important state agency involved with Everglades restoration remains committed to the interests of sugar farmers instead of the environment.

At Wednesday’s hearing, South Florida Water Management Executive Director Peter Antonacci restated the district’s opposition to Negron’s proposal. Antonacci told senators that buying the land actually could hurt restoration efforts.

Why does the water management district oppose the idea? Because U.S. Sugar opposes the idea, and U.S. Sugar has donated $425,000 to Gov. Rick Scott’s political action committee since the 2014 election cycle. The company owns only a portion of one of the two parcels, but U.S. Sugar doesn’t want any more farmland out of production.

Sugar production causes political and pollution problems. Since the Cuban embargo blocked sugar imports, acreage around the Florida everglades put into sugar production increased four-fold.

U.S. sugar prices are far higher than market prices because of federal sugar quotas, raising costs for American consumers and reducing competitiveness of U.S. candy and chocolate companies.

In “Protectionist sugar policy cost Americans $3 billion in 2012,” AEI’s Mark Perry looks at costs and consequences of sugar trade restriction:

…American consumers and US sugar-using businesses, who have been forced to pay more than twice the world price of sugar on average since 1982 (29.1 cents for domestic sugar vs. 14.4 cents for world sugar…

See also Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Sugar Soars Above World Prices: Candy Makers Prepare Price Increases,” (WSJ, Dec 7 2014).

Apart from money costs to consumers are environmental costs from water diverted from and pollution seeping from sugar acreage into the Everglades ecosystem. According to colorful Grist article “Is sugar production still wrecking the Everglades?” (Grist, Jan 4, 2016).

As happens in so many places where agriculture butts up against nature, excess phosphorus in run-off contributes to algal blooms and otherwise mucks up the area’s ecological balance — in this case, feeding weedy plants like cattails and choking out native species like sawgrass. This kind of nutrient pollution can be traced back to several human sources, but a recent analysis by the nonprofit Everglades Foundation found that 76 percent of the phosphorus problem there comes from agriculture — and in that neck of the woods, that primarily means sugarcane.

The Everglades Foundation report (March, 2012) notes:

New Study: Agriculture Industry contributes 76% of the pollution in the Everglades, pays only 24% of the clean-up costs.

The EPA is suing the state of Florida for not reducing nutrient flows into Florida waters. Nutrient runoff into Florida waters is caused in part by four hundred thousands acres of sugar plantations in south Florida producing some thirteen million tons of sugar in 2011 (Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, May 2012).

Reducing pollution from Florida sugar plantations seems costly, as does reducing sugar production. But actually it is sugar production in Florida itself that is costly for American taxpayers and consumers. Turns out much less Florida sugar would be produced without diverse Federal sugar subsidies and import restrictions.

This March 13, 2013 WSJ article, “Big Sugar is Set for a Sweet Bailout” explains the latest chapter in the decades-long interventionist dynamics of the sugar industry (may be paywalled).

Interventionist dynamics means the ongoing political and economic consequences of government intervention in the economy. Government programs to support sugar producers may be designed to be modest efforts but they soon cause sugar production to go up, which pushes sugar prices lower, which hurts producers. So government looks to further legislation to fix the overproduction problem, but that causes later problems inspiring further legislation. Over the years layer upon layer of legislation makes sugar production ever more complex and convoluted, and tends to benefit established sugar producers while costing consumers and taxpayers millions or billions of dollars.

Some history of US/Cuba sugar can be found in “U.S Sugar Subsidies and the Caribbean’s Sugar Economies,” (Council on Hemispheric Affairs, July 31, 2013):

The U.S. government heavily subsidizes its sugar sector, imposes quotas on sugar imports, and then hectors developing countries on the wisdom of cutting back on their own subsidies. These measures protect private U.S. sugar producers from foreign competition, allowing them to seek unreasonably high prices in the U.S. market. U.S. consumers are likely to lose from these policies, as they end up paying higher prices at U.S. supermarkets, and, moreover, Caribbean sugar prices also have been adversely affected by U.S. protectionism in the sugar industry.

The article continues with some history:

The United States now has an absolute trade embargo with Cuba after U.S.-owned sugar companies in Cuba were nationalized in 1961. Before the revolution, 69.1 percent of Cuban trade overall and 54.8 percent of its sugar trade was with the United States. [2] The revolutionary government nationalized the sugar industry, a move that was seen as against free market principles. Yet Washington violates similar principles by keeping its sugar policy narrowly in place. Such double standards that block sugar imports from struggling Caribbean markets will continue to impair and distort U.S.-Caribbean relations.

However, opposing the Cuban government’s seizure of privately-owned sugar acreage and then blocking imports of sugar from seized acreage isn’t a “double standard.”

If the Canadian government seized a Ford engine plant in Windsor, Ontario, and then tried to continue exporting engines made there to the U.S., Ford motor company would file suit for return of their plant and for damages. And the U.S. government would support Ford (or maybe send in troops).

But revolutions happen around the world, and when the bullets stop flying and dust settles, lawyers and title insurance companies begin the work of negotiating and litigating to determine compensation and the return or property to owners.

The challenge of the Cuban revolution has been tied up in Cold War politics, and Florida politics. (See: “Why has the US embargo against Cuba lasted so long?” (The Telegraph, Dec 18, 2014) Cubans who fled Castro and prospered in the U.S. know the damage caused by the revolution then, and know from friends and relatives still in Cuba, the ongoing suffering and repression. Many believe opening trade for sugar imported from Cuban government lands would provide income to the communist government, helping sustain the ongoing repression of political dissidents and everyday Cubans.

For half a century the U.S. federal government blocked economic engagement with Cuba, forbidding trade and travel. Ending these restrictions would open the door for curious Americans to visit Cuba more easily, bringing goods and ideas to and from the long-suffering people of Cuba.

Balseros (DVD available on Netflix) offers a captivating look at life in Cuba as the economy’s  downward spiral continued after the fall of the Soviet Union. The USSR had long subsidized communism in Cuba. This from an online review of Balseros:

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 5.34.49 AM…works like Joe Morris Doss’s recently published Let the Bastards Go: From Cuba to Freedom on God’s Mercy and Carlos Bosch and José María Doménech’s new documentary Balseros (Cuban Rafters) are much grander humanist statements because they give a particularly human face to the horror of two separate Cuban refugee debacles.

Balseros begins with a shot of a woman boarding a ferry in Cuba. An officer passes a hand-held metal detector over her body. “I only have sadness in my heart,” she says, a statement that lingers in the mind way past this devastating film’s final credits. But there are those who still cling to Castro despite the fact that he has left his people with nothing but the cold metal of resentment in their hearts. Bosch and Doménech focus on the struggles of seven rafters: Guillermo Armas, Rafael Cano, Méricys González, Oscar Del Valle, Míriam Hernández, Juan Carlos, and Misclaida. All of them struggle with leaving their families behind or reuniting with family members who left before them. One woman must whore herself to afford the inner tubes and canvas that will build the raft that may or may not succumb under the unpredictable force of the waters between Cuba and Florida.

The U.S. trade and travel blockade has long prevented both gains from trade but also knowledge and ideas crossing borders.

A friend who grew up in communist Hungary tells of all the propoganda she heard as a child of poverty and disorder in capitalist countries. But when she met tourists from the west, she notice they were wearing expensive clothing.

There is no reason Cubans in Cuba should be poorer than Cubans in Miami. Just as Chinese escaping communism by boat to Hong Kong quickly prospered, Cubans rafting to Florida prospered as well.

The Cuban government has long blamed Cuba’s economic problems on the US trade embargo. By removing that excuse, the US would open trade relations that would engage more Cubans and Americans in commercial relationships.

The Cuban government apparently believed it had an agreement with the Reagan Administration to accept Cubans wishing to depart Cuba. Later U.S. Administrations continued to block Cuban immigration due to anti-immigration pressure from conservatives and unions.

The problem for Castro was that Cubans were fed up with shortages and were willing hijack ships to escape. One group hijacked a ferry and headed to Florida, but ran out of fuel.

Castro announced in 1994 that anyone wanting to, could depart Cuba. Quickly thousands began building rafts from whatever materials they could find to try to cross the “Sea of Death.” U.S. policy though was to prevent relatives in the U.S. from assisting, and to intern Cubans wishing social and economic freedom in the U.S..

U.S. policy still restricts Cubans wanting to come to the U.S., even when relatives are willing to support them as they look for work.

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 6.29.51 AMStudents and teachers have visited Cuba for many years, as educational travel has been allowed by the U.S. government. Categories of legal travel to Cuba have been expanded.

U.S. High Schoolers Discover Cuba on Educational Trips,” (US News, March 21, 2016) notes travel restrictions were further relaxed last year:

President Barack Obama is visiting Cuba this week, making him the first sitting president to visit the country in nearly 90 years. And last week his administration announced changes to travel restrictions that will make it easier for Americans to visit the country for educational purposes. …

And Marienfeld thinks her students were impressed with the Cuban students’ outlook on the future. Many dreamed of one day visiting the U.S., she says.

“One of the kids said, ‘You know, I was very impressed with how little they had, and how happy they were,'” she says. She thought that was a pretty good observation because they do have – and exist – on so very little, but culturally they are so rich, she says.

In an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld’s guest praises the amazing classic cars of Cuba. Seinfeld responds asking: “do you think that’s what they want?”

People in Cuba make the best of what they have. But their economy is too small to support automobile manufacturing. The U.S. embargo has blocked exports from the U.S. for over fifty years. So Cubans restore and maintain the Fords and Chevys already in Cuba before the 1959 revolution. For classic car enthusiasts, Cuba is wonderful. But for Cubans these cars are expensive to maintain, and their incomes are low. But why are Cubans in Cuba still so poor over a half century after the Batista regime? (Cubans who escaped to Miami have prospered.)

For decades the Cuban government has claimed the U.S. trade embargo is the cause of Cuba’s poverty. Economists agree the embargo blocked trade that would have allowed both Cubans and Americans to prosper.

But economists also argue that Cuba’s socialist economy system is a major source for the poverty of everyday Cubans.  Still, the debate over Cuba’s lack of economic progress continues online, and students asking Google “Why are people so poor in Cuba?” will find a variety of links with opposing views.

For American tourists Cuba may seem a low-cost Disney-like “Fifties World” vacation. But for most who live and work in Cuba and can’t leave, living “on so very little” is not what they wish for if they could choose their government or do depart for the U.S.

This Miami Herald 20-year retrospective video on the 2004 Cuban Rafters story gives a glimpse of life in Cuba then and why so many were willing to take flimsy rafts for the U.S.

Should the United States Maintain Its Embargo against Cuba?” on ProCon.org lists about a dozen arguments both for and against ending the embargo.

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 12.12.23 PMHBO offers a 2016 documentary, “Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death

​A raw, unvarnished look at contemporary Cuba through the lens of its people, who are at once fiercely loyal to their country while being extremely dissatisfied after decades of neglect.

 

In the news: ” U.S. Ends Ban on China Trade; Items Are Listed“:

The President’s action lifts a 21-year-old embargo against trade with China permitting selected exports to China and the import of goods from China on the same basis goods from other Communist countries are admitted.

Why did the U.S. government relax trade restrictions with China, the USSR, and communist countries in Eastern Europe in the 1970s, but not with communist Cuba?

In an April 19, 1971 press conference, President Nixon said:

“If the want to trade … we are ready,” he said. “If they want to have Chinese come to the United States, we are ready. We are also ready for Americans to go there, Americans in all walks of life.

Chinese could visit America and Americans could visit China. Why weren’t similar doors opened for travel between Cuba and the U.S.?

By the time of the Cuban revolution United States had a long history of  “engagement” with Cuba. The U.S. military occupied Cuba from 1989 to 1902 and again from 1906 to 1909 and again from 1917 to 1922. U.S. firms controlled much of Cuban sugar and other industries.

Cuba’s political and economic history is complicated, and U.S. interventions in Cuba, as in many other countries, led to unexpected and unwanted consequences.

“Rum and Revolution”, a Washington Post review of the 2008 book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cubanotes problems with “help” from the U.S.:

But Cuba’s independence was stunted by the heavy-handed United States, which doubted that the republic (over half of whose population was black or mulatto) could govern itself. The United States aided Cuba’s fight but then re-occupied the island in 1906 at the request of the feckless Cuban president, Tomás Estrada Palma. A bitterly disappointed Emilio [Bacardi] left government and returned to Santiago, where he penned a 10-volume history of the city and tended his business affairs for the remainder of his life.

Some years ago a war veteran mentioned returning to Ft. Lewis, a Washington state military base, from Korea and being recruited by federal agents for a new assignment in Cuba. I asked: “So we were trying to get rid of Castro even then?” No, he said, he would be helping put Casto into power to reform the corrupt Batista government.

That didn’t turn out well.

This New York Times review (April 23, 2006) of The Man Who Invented Fidel explains how Fidel Castro’s reputation as a democratic reformer was shaped by NYT reporter Herbert Matthews who interviewed Castro in the mountains:Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 2.18.34 PM

The front-page scoop that followed and two additional articles predicted “a new deal for Cuba” if Castro’s insurgency won and reported that the romantic revolutionary was no Communist; in fact, the local Communists opposed him. The exclusive was a sensation at the time and transformed Castro’s image from a hotheaded Don Quixote into the youthful face of the future of Cuba. Unfortunately for Matthews and The Times, it didn’t age well….

DePalma shows that Matthews was a determined liberal but not a faker like Walter Duranty, the Times correspondent who won a 1932 Pulitzer Prize for his fawning coverage of Stalin and was probably in league with the Soviet secret police. Matthews’s articles were for the most part factually accurate. But he comes across as a self-righteous and credulous analyst who sided with those who gave him access and then refused to reassess, whatever the changing facts. While other reporters who also misread Castro toughened their coverage after he began ordering summary executions, Matthews stuck stubbornly to his original myth.

Okay, maybe that’s seems too much background to the long-standing trade and travel embargo with Cuba. But Castro’s communist revolution including seizing land, buildings, and factories owned by U.S. citizens and companies.

Exports from Cuba after the 1959 revolution would have been seized and tied up in litigation since they camp from farm lands or factories that U.S. Courts would support as seized illegally.

In Talks Over Seized U.S. Property, Havana Counters With Own Claim” (New York Times, Dec 13, 2015) reports:

Some of the thorniest conversations in the long road toward full relations between Cuba and the United States have only just begun in recent days: The two sides are sitting down for the first time to discuss the American properties Cuba confiscated decades ago.

The very idea of compensation for property and businesses seized in the wake of the Cuban revolution sent a quiver of excitement down the backs of the thousands of people who lost everything from sugar mills to family homes to oil refineries.

People started dusting off yellowing deeds. Lawyers were called.

Similar property confiscation problems followed the fall of communist governments in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and other Eastern and Central European countries.

The Cuban government has claimed it is due compensation for income lost due to the long-standing trade embargo, plus from damage caused by the Bay of Pigs invasion. Hungary could on similar grounds request compensation from Russia for the USSR’s invasion and 1956 suppression of the Hungarian Uprising (Freedom’s Fury is documentary on uprising and bloody Olympics match between Hungary and USSR).

Opening trade relations with Cuba has another connection with similar challenges opening trade with China:

In 1979, China agreed to pay $80 million to a China Claims Fund, which allowed American claimants 39 percent of the value of their lost properties, according to the Brookings study. Vietnam, to normalize relations with the United States, agreed in 1995 to apply its assets frozen by the United States government to pay claimants 100 percent of the principal and 80 percent of the interest they were owed.

So, in summary, property claims from the Cuban revolution can be dealt with as they have in other similar upheavals. Time magazine’s Oct. 19, 2015 article “The U.S. Trade Embargo on Cuba Just Hit 55 Years,” begins:

It’s been exactly 55 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s State Department imposed the first trade embargo on Cuba on Oct. 19, 1960. The original embargo covered all U.S. exports to Cuba except for medicine and some foods. President John F. Kennedy expanded the embargo to cover U.S. imports from Cuba and made it permanent on Feb. 7, 1962.

Although relations between the two countries warmed this year, the embargo is still in place and an act of Congress is required to remove it.

The origins of the embargo go back even further, to when Fidel Castro came to power Jan. 1, 1959. He quickly lost American support as he publicized private land and companies, and imposed heavy taxes on imports from the U.S. In the first year of Castro’s regime, U.S. trade with Cuba decreased 20%.

(When Time reporter writes “publicized private land and companies” he doesn’t mean advertise or promote.)

So ending the embargo with Cuba requires a procedure to address past seizure of U.S.-owned assets.

Also, according to “Tillerson would recommend veto of bill ending Cuba embargo,” Washington Examiner, Jan 11, 2017)

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that he wouldn’t support legislation to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba, a major goal of the Obama administration that now seems likely to go unfulfilled for the next several years.

The Obama administration did all it could to ease trade and travel restrictions against Cuba, but the embargo against the island nation is federal law, and can only be undone through an act of Congress. But Tillerson indicated he wouldn’t support any such move on his watch.

 

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