When Barack Obama lifted assorted trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, he did so by executive order. He did it that way because he knew there was no way in hell that Congress was going to lift the sanctions.
President Obama has significant powers at his disposal to make the U.S. trade and travel embargoes on Cuba meaningless, though action by Congress is required to formally lift the sanctions.
Six separate laws dictate the terms of sanctions on Cuba. They range from the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.
It was President John F. Kennedy who prohibited U.S. exports to Cuba under the Trading with the Enemy Act shortly after Fidel Castro took control of the island nation.
Since then, Congress has moved periodically to toughen the sanctions with legislation, and a series of presidents have also taken executive steps to tighten or loosen the screws on Cuba.
Experts agree that Obama, who with actions on healthcare and immigration has signaled a willingness to test the lengths of executive power, has significant discretion when it comes to U.S. policy toward Cuba.
The six laws are written in a way to give the executive branch latitude in enforcing the law, and regulations are used to implement many of the sanctions.
This is how Obama operates.
Donald Trump has now announced that what the executive order gives, it can just as easily take away.
President-elect Donald Trump said Monday he will reverse President Obama’s thaw with Cuba if the island nation’s government does not make reforms.
“If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Trump tweeted.
Trump is pledging to follow through on a campaign promise to undo Obama’s decision to open diplomatic and commercial ties with Cuba if the communist government doesn’t adopt changes.
In a signal that this will be the policy of the new administration, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has said the same thing
Personally, I am sort of agnostic on the sanctions regime. There is a strong case to be made that the Castro crime syndicate was only able to survive as long as it has because of the unifying factor it made of hatred for the dread Uncle Sam and the norteamericanos. Having said that, national policy needs to be preceded by a national discussion. Obama decided that toadying to another tyrant was more important than the law and went his own way. Right now nothing would please me more than for Trump to pull the plug on Obama’s concessions.