“I’ve been very vocal that Raúl Castro does not believe in democracy and freedom and things like that,” Scott told Politico. “I don’t believe it’s good for our country to be coddling a dictator like that. So I’m going to work with the Trump administration on what’s the right policy.”
President Trump wants to take a more restrictive approach with Cuba. He tweeted in November that he was prepared to “terminate” Obama’s agreements if the island did not “make a better deal.” But after over a month in office, the Trump administration hasn’t taken any action against the agreements. Scott hopes that Trump will begin renegotiations with Cuba soon, but he didn’t specify how he would advise Trump to approach the issue.
Scott’s stance on trade with Cuba has been aggressive. He followed Trump’s example of dictating policy via Twitter by posting three tweets on January 25 threatening to cut off state funding from any Florida port that worked with the Cuban government.
The governor followed up the tweets with an additional clause in his proposed budget to lawmakers that says no Florida port will receive state funding for infrastructure improvements if they expand trade with the “Cuban dictatorship.” The Florida legislature will debate the budget, which includes $177 million earmarked for port upgrades, this month.
Almost immediately after Scott’s tweets were published, two Florida ports, the Port of Palm Beach and Port Everglades, canceled plans to sign memorandums of understanding with Cuban trade officials in January.
Despite the uncertainty brought by the current standstill, trade between Florida and Cuba has remained steady over the past year. Reports say trade between the two regions totaled almost $65 million in revenue last year. Most of the goods being shipped to Cuba are food, humanitarian donations, medical supplies, and agricultural products. It is unclear whether renegotiations could affect this trade.