Newswise — President Obama has ushered in foreign policy changes towards Cuba – changes that can be reversed by the next president – and his trip this March is aimed at keeping them in place after he leaves office, an expert in Latin American politics and former Carter Center official said.

Jennifer McCoy, a Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, is an expert in Latin American politics, and specializes in democratization, mediation and conflict prevention. A former director of the Americas Program at the Carter Center, McCoy organized the historic trips of former President Carter to Cuba in 2002 and 2011.

McCoy’s contact information is in the contact box above for registered and logged-in users of the Newswise system.

“President Obama’s largely symbolic visit to Cuba today is aimed to make his changes in policy stick beyond his presidency, despite the fact that the U.S. Congress controls the decision over lifting the trade embargo,” said McCoy, who also serves as founding director of Georgia State’s Global Studies Institute.

The president opened up U.S. citizen travel to Cuba, airline and ferry routes, and telecommunications, and also relaxed restrictions on investment by U.S. firms and individuals – using executive regulations, reversible by the next president. Some Republican presidential candidates this year have vowed to reverse President Obama’s policies.

But if even if Congress won’t lift the trade embargo, and a possible future president promises to overturn President Obama’s executive orders, he’s set in motion significant public interest in keeping U.S. relations with Cuba open, McCoy said.

“His executive regulations, which could be rolled back by a future president, have the weight of public opinion and private sector interest behind them,” she explained.

The communist Cuban government, which now must respond to the president’s overtures, also faces a balancing act in both embracing this new American openness, yet it must also keep from going back to the extremes of pre-revolutionary Cuba.

“The Cuban government wants to have gradual and controlled change in order not to be overwhelmed by a sudden influx of American money, tourists and investors,” McCoy said, “nor a return to the corruption and inequality associated with the U.S. presence prior to the revolution.”

For more information about McCoy, visit To read her recent publications as well as read from her other appearances in the international media, visit