When Barack Obama landed in Havana on Sunday, becoming the first sitting US president to visit Cuba in 88 years, he probably didnt have Richard Nixon far from his mind.
Back in 1972, President Nixon remade the geopolitical map with a historic visit to China. And while the relationship between America and China remains fraught and complex, one legacy of the visit was a remarkable boom in economic trade between the two nations. This week, Obama is attempting a similar political gambit in Cuba, and its fair to say a similar blossoming for economic trade is one of the hoped-for results.
Related: Seven Takeaways From Obama's Visit to Cuba
But it will take more than just that to lift Cubas economy -- currently a measly $6,789.80 per person -- out of the hole its in.
For half a century America has kept Cuba under economic embargo as punishment for its communist government. Recently weve begun poking holes in that wall: Congress authorized more trade in agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices trade in 2000. The arrival of the Obama administration eased travel restrictions; commercial airlines should begin scheduling flights later this year. And earlier in 2016, restrictions that required Cubas state-run enterprises to buy imports with cash on hand rather than with credit (which effectively shut down trade in things like rice, wheat, and corn) were eased as well. More American cellular and satellite services are now permitted to operate in Cuba by the US government, and bans for lots of other items are being eased on a case-by-case basis.