Secondly, direct US engagement could allow two of the nation's largest revenue generators, the Cuban nickel and sugar industries, to expand into more capital-intensive energy research through university and private-sector partnerships.
Most Cuban exports are currently destined for Canada, China, or the Netherlands as raw or lightly refined materials. Yet, with funding for technology and without the fear of embargo-based repercussions from the US, Cuban research opportunities and export products could have the potential to diversify.
By gaining the freedom and cooperative assistance to make this transition, Cuba could address its own energy dependence while leap-frogging years ahead on modernization. For starters, Cuba could explore the sugar-bioenergy market and the energy-related uses of nickel. Given the abundance of well-trained but under-employed Cuban engineers, the ingredients for a perfect storm of innovation are already present.
For its part, by ending the embargo, the US simultaneously gains security through stability in Cuba. More important, by investing in the future prototype for emerging markets – a 42,803-square-mile green energy and technology lab called Cuba – America gains a dedicated partner in the search for energy independence.
Finally, a key component of renewing relations is ending illicit emigration. At issue is the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, amended in 1995. It encourages disaffected Cubans to risk their lives for the reward of an expedited path to US citizenship upon reaching American soil. They also receive immediate access to a work permit and the ability to acquire residency in one year. A 2002 article from The Miami Herald reported that 1 in 20 Cubans being smuggled to the shores of the United States dies in the attempt. Meanwhile, smugglers collect up to $10,000 a person.