MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the first regularly scheduled flight from Miami International Airport to Havana left Monday morning, with a water cannon salute as it departed the gate, President-Elect Donald Trump was tweeting.
“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.
He was referring to the deals President Barack Obama began making two years ago that have seen cruise ships sailing to the island, increased travel, and a smattering of other engagement.
Trump is sticking with what he told CBS4’s Jim DeFede in the campaign.
“We get nothing. The people of Cuba get nothing, and I would do whatever is necessary to get a good agreement,” Trump told Defede in an October 28 interview in Doral.
If Trump tosses Obama’s reforms?
“I’m thrilled. I think it’s great,” said Jim Cason, the mayor of Coral Gables and former chief of the U.S. interests section in Havana under the George W. Bush administration.
Cason agrees with Trump that as long as an unbending political elite rule Cuba, the people will remain impoverished and oppressed.
“Americans can travel more, but that’s a benefit to us, not the Cuban people,” Cason said.
Ralph Gazitua, President and CEO of WTDC Foreign Trade Zone near MIA disagrees.
“The embargo really wasn’t working. It hasn’t worked in 50 years,” Gazitua, who runs a duty-free shipping and warehousing operation, said on Monday.
Gazitua says the U.S. is taking baby steps toward change in Cuba.
“I’ve been there seven times in the last two years,” he said. “I’ve seen it. I was there when the U.S flag was raised above our embassy there.
Four million Americans have visited since detente began – spending lots of money and having face to face contact with the people there. Gazitua says limited improvements in communications and the internet have given Cubans a look at the outside world.
“Now that they have had the opportunity to see what’s occurring globally, you know, they’re asking themselves the question, ‘why not me?'” Gazitua said.
Gazitua says he has a host of clients ready to launch all manner of projects in Cuba – if the U.S. will push a bit harder. He thinks Donald Trump, who he voted for – can make it happen. Gazitua says Trump, a businessman, should recognize that the embargo is not good business.
“I voted for him, and I think he should go to Cuba and see firsthand what’s occurring and the changes that were made by President Obama,” Gazitua said.
Others say Trump should dump Obama’s reforms and deliver an ultimatum.
“Unless we, the Cuban-Americans, Americans in general, and more importantly, the Cuban people get something out of this one-sided deal we should be back to square one,” said Cason.
Cason added that no other nation has an economic embargo on Cuba and that that free trade hasn’t helped the common people on the Island.
“The money has gone into the pockets of the Castros and their close supporters,” Cason said.
So will Raul Castro feel the Trump Heat?
Cuba scholar Dr. Andy Gomez doesn’t think so.
“I think that if you push Raul, I think Raul does not need the United States,” he. “He clearly indicated for the last two years that he does not want American foreign investment or he would have opened it by now.”