The Obama administration signed a joint pact with Cuba’s Castro regime on how the two countries will respond to oil spills — one of six such accords President Barack Obama hopes to sign before leaving office.
U.S. Charge d’Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis said the accord with Cuba, signed Monday, was only the first in a series of deals to “protect the shared marine environment” between the two countries, reports Reuters.
President-elect Donald Trump promised to rewind Obama’s normalizing relations with Cuba, winning him the support of Cubans living in Florida who opposed the oppressive Castro regime. Obama plans on entering into five more agreements to make it harder for Trump to undo his legacy.
Environmentalists heralded the deal, which calls for the U.S. and Cuba to “prepare joint disaster plans, test them and train personnel, among other measures,” Reuters reports.
“This agreement is especially important for people living in coastal communities along the northern coast of Cuba and southern Florida because it provides a strong measure of protection against future disasters,” Dan Whittle, head of Cuba projects at the Environmental Defense Fund, told Reuters.
Cuba attempted to drill for oil in Gulf of Mexico in 2012, but its wells came up dry. The Obama administration wants cooperative guidelines between the two countries in case a cross-territory oil spill.
Obama began normalizing relations with Cuba in 2014, despite intense criticism it only rewarded a communist regime responsible for numerous human rights abuses. The president has used executive orders to open up U.S. relations.
Only Congress can fully lift the 1960s-era embargo against Cuba.
Obama made a three-day visit to Cuba in March 2016, and one month later U.S. commercial vessels and cruise ships were given permission to travel to the Caribbean island.
But Trump’s threatened to undo Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba. Trump has criticized the Castro regime for its human rights abuses since it came to power in 1959.
Trump called Fidel Castro a “brutal dictator” when he died in November.
“Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty,” Trump said.
Fidel Castro is responsible for the deaths of nearly 10,000 people during his brutal communist takeover. Another 77,000 Cubans were estimated to have died trying to escape Cuba.
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