TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - President Obama's trip to Cuba marks big steps towards restoring economic ties with the country. But as University of Toledo Assistant Political Science Professor Joel Voss notes, his executive actions regarding Cuba aren't permanent yet.
"Economic sanctions still exist against Cuba. So even though the Obama Administration is doing a lot to attempt to open Cuban borders and to fully open U.S. relations with Cuba, in order to stop economic sanctions, it has to go through Congress. Clearly nothing's going to get through Congress right now. In fact, if a Republican is elected in November, what you'll probably see is a complete freeze or even a backing up of this opening Cuban relations with the United States," said Voss.
The Cuban economic sanctions themselves stem from decades-old tension.
"They come from the Cuban revolution. One of the main concerns is that the Castro regime repatriated lots of foreign assets when the revolution occurred. One of the big issues with economic sanctions is having some type of agreement in place that will pay back companies who lost money during the original revolution. Or of course figuring out a way for those companies to be okay with it. That's one of the issues facing econ sanctions. The other is just a political issue," said Voss.
Still, he says that opening the economic borders could be a win-win situation.
"It would profoundly change (Cuban) economy; it would open all kinds of different possibilities. It's across the board just a better economic policy for both Cubans, and of course for the U.S," said Voss.
That includes a policy of allowing Cubans to earn paychecks in the United States.
"That's really huge, especially with one of my favorite pastimes, which is baseball. It used to be that baseball players would have to defect to the U.S. first and then apply to play in the minor leagues or in the major leagues. But now under the new policy they would come and they can make a paycheck; they wouldn't have to defect. That's big for them because they can remain Cuban, have Cuban citizenship, and everyone gets more taxes on that," said Voss.
As far as Americans seeing Cuban goods at a local store in the near future, Voss is not as optimistic about that.
"I think anything that's covered by economic sanctions, such as Cuban cigars, that's a popular one...I do not foresee the sanctions changing at any time," said Voss.
Because that trade embargo will remain in place until Congressional action is taken, that means it's all still a work in progress.