Trump Administration Bans Federal Funding For Cultural Exchanges With Cuba

Nov 7, 2019

The Trump Administration has taken aim again at Cuba. This time it’s banning federal funding for cultural and educational exchanges with the communist island. But critics are asking if the White House is punishing the wrong people.

Since the U.S. and Cuba normalized relations five years ago, agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities have funded cultural exchanges. But many Cuban exiles say those programs too often give money to Cuba’s repressive regime.

In fact, they argue the regime is in effect trafficking Cuban artists and other cultural and educational figures when they take part in the exchanges.

That’s why the Trump Administration made the federal funding ban vis-à-vis Cuba part of sanctions against Syria, North Korea and Russia. The U.S. says all those countries are doing too little to combat international human trafficking.

But critics of the federal funding ban on Cuba say it will instead end up hurting a community on the island that is known for standing up to the regime. Organizations like the pro-normalization Cuba Study Group argue artists and intellectuals actually aid U.S. efforts to undermine communist rule.

They say the Trump Administration has negatively affected another group helpful to U.S. policy – private business owners in Cuba – by reducing tourist travel to the island.