July 19, 2023
Miguel "Mike" B. Fernandez

Transforming U.S.-Cuba relations: From dominating to elevating

Over the past six decades, both Cuba and the United States have made mistakes in their attempts to assert control over bilateral relations and create instability at the expense of each other.

However, it is evident that bilateral dominance is not the solution. Rather, the mutual objective should be elevating of the quality of life for the Cuban people.

The Cuban government’s failure to improve citizens’ quality of life, combined with the U.S. government’s focus on hurting the regime instead of helping the people, has only perpetuated suffering among the island’s 11 million citizens.

It is time to shift our focus toward uplifting the Cuban people, primarily by supporting and empowering the emerging private sector, to restore hope and a bright future for the nation.

By promoting and facilitating engagement and collaboration with Cuba’s emerging private sector, the United States can foster positive change, enhance regional stability and tap the vast potential of Cubans’ entrepreneurial spirit, while reducing the vast numbers of Cuban immigrants arriving at the southern border.

A notable, and not so quiet, course change has begun as the Cuban government has had to accept the reality that it’s broke. Hence the emergence of a private sector, which can use our support because of our know-how and capital resources as a viable alternative to a punitive strategy.


In recent years, the Cuban economy has experienced a drastic decline, negatively affecting the lives of every citizen and forcing the government to exert greater control over the population and further limit individual freedoms.

However, the collapse of the state enterprise sector, combined with a legal framework allowing small-business incorporation has resulted in the emergence of a private entrepreneurial sector that is providing solutions for Cubans where the government no longer can.

It is crucial for the United States to support and engage with Cuba’s private sector to reduce emigration to this country and promote stability and prosperity within the island.


The private sector in Cuba presents an opportunity to transform the country’s economic landscape. By redirecting our efforts toward supporting the growth of entrepreneurship, small businesses and foreign investment, we can foster an environment of economic independence for Cubans.

This shift in focus not only will empower individuals financially but also provide hope for a better future, which is essential to dissuade large-scale emigration and brain drain.

Let’s recognize that the United States, the Cuban diaspora and Cuba all share at least one common goal: to improve the lives of the Cuban people. Although legitimate political disagreements remain in our way, it is time we prioritize the welfare and well-being of individuals.

By shifting our narrative from confrontation to cooperation, the United States can play a significant role in revitalizing Cuba’s economy and helping restore its status as the pearl of the Antilles.

The current state of affairs in Cuba is emblematic of a nation grappling with economic challenges and political uncertainties.

To ensure a stable future, the Cuban people need hope and a tangible reason to stay and contribute to their future growth.

A key part of this process is supporting the private sector and providing the means for financial independence and prosperity within the country.

The U.S. policy of isolation and domination toward Cuba has not yielded the desired results. Embracing and empowering Cuba’s private sector will not only secure our borders but also provide tangible opportunities for the Cuban people to flourish, rebuilding the island’s economy and restoring its position as a thriving nation in the Americas.

Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez is chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners and board director of the Cuba Study Group.

This op-ed was first published in The Miami Herald on July 19, 2023.