Rice experts available to discuss Trump rollback of US relations with Cuba


David Ruth

Rice experts available to discuss Trump rollback of US relations with Cuba

HOUSTON – (June 15, 2017) – Some reports speculate that when President Donald Trump visits Miami tomorrow, June 16, he could roll back the loosening of travel and trade restrictions President Barack Obama announced in 2014. Two Rice University experts are available to comment on the impact of such changes.

Fans watch Rice and Artemisa play a baseball game in Artemisa, Cuba, Nov. 25, 2016.

Fans watch Rice and Artemisa play a baseball game in Artemisa, Cuba. Photo by David Ruth/Rice University

In November 2016, Rice University’s baseball team, along with a faculty member, visited Cuba. The team was scheduled to play five Cuban teams on the trip, but former Cuban President Fidel Castro died the day of the first game. When the remaining games were canceled, the trip became an educational and cultural visit at a historic time.

Luis Duno-Gottberg, associate professor and chair of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American studies, is available to comment on what limiting relations could mean to the U.S. and Cuba. He has been taking Rice University students to Cuba for years and escorted the baseball team to Havana to complete the semesterlong course the team was taking on trends in contemporary Cuba. He is available to comment on Trump’s potential policy changes.

“If Trump were to reverse the opening that Obama started, it would be tragic, it would be poor foreign policy and it would be tactically and strategically a miscalculation,” Duno-Gottberg said. “This would go against U.S. interests, not to mention the interests of the Cuban people.

“If you take into consideration that Raul Castro will step down in about two years, a move like that (Trump returning the U.S. to pre-2014 relations) would exacerbate the most conservative factions in the Cuban government and would make the transition to a more liberalized form of government and economy more difficult,” he said.

Mark Jones, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies, professor of political science and fellow in political science at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, is also available leading up to and after Trump’s Miami visit and Cuba announcement.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans support the normalization of relations with Cuba begun by President Obama in 2014; however, their support is diffuse and very soft,” Jones said. “In contrast, a small minority of Americans, concentrated in Miami-Dade County and led by politicians such as Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), intensely oppose these normalization efforts and have been lobbying President Trump to roll back some of the measures implemented by President Obama,” he said.

“While Cuba remains a brutal dictatorship that denies its citizens basic civil liberties and political rights, the U.S. maintains normal relationships with many governments that are equally if not more oppressive than the Cuban regime,” Jones said. “That raises the question of why diplomatic relations with Cuba have not evolved in the same way as those with these other nations.

“The economic benefits to the United States from better relations with Cuba should not be overstated: It is an impoverished country of only 11 million and thus not a major market for U.S. exports and services,” he said. “That said, it is a relatively untapped market adjacent to the United States, which suggests that U.S. industry and companies would benefit financially from freer trade and commerce between the United States and Cuba, and that better relations would allow improved cooperation between the two countries in the areas of combatting drug trafficking, immigration and preparing for potential disasters (e.g., oil spills) that directly affect the interests of both countries.”

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.

To arrange an interview with Duno-Gottberg or Jones, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at 713-348-6327 or david@rice.edu.


This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related Materials:

Luis Duno-Gottberg bio: https://spanishandportuguese.rice.edu/publications/luis-duno-gottberg

Mark Jones bio: http://www.bakerinstitute.org/experts/mark-p-jones/

To download photos of the Rice baseball team’s visit to Cuba, click here.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.