Fidel Castro's death has opened doors for U.S.-Cuba relations to grow warmer and President-elect Donald Trump should be open to talks with our neighbor to the south, former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Monday.
The Cuba-born Gutierrez, who was commerce secretary under President George W. Bush and currently chairs the Albright Stonebridge Group, said that with U.S. companies getting closer to Cuba over the last several years, the only way to move, at least in terms of economic interests, is forward.
"A lot of work has been done, and I think that the president-elect would be well-served if he received other points of view," Gutierrez told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Gutierrez was interviewed before Trump warned in a tweet on Monday that he would break off the fledgling ties unless Cuba negotiated a better agreement with the United States.
On Saturday, after the death of Fidel Castro, Trump released a statement that called the former leader a "brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades."
Gutierrez said it would be wise for Trump to consider the benefits of having economic dealings with Cuba, citing businesses, universities, hospitals and other organizations that have worked hard over the last two years to establish ties with Cuba.
"He's getting a lot of pressure to just write everything off, and there are a lot of businesses, a lot of farm states, a lot of governors, a lot of mayors who are counting on agricultural sales to Cuba," Gutierrez said.
The former secretary added that a number of airlines have spent a considerable amount of time and money setting up regular flight patterns to Cuba, and that Starwood Hotels is already managing hotels there. JetBlue resumed commercial flights on Monday.
Gutierrez said Trump should take the opportunity to get everything on the table and discuss the country's options rather than rolling back President Barack Obama's progress with normalization.
"I think it would be a tremendous legacy for … President-elect Trump to be the businessperson who can spread the word of how noble free enterprise is. This is a perfect opportunity to do it in Cuba, and I do believe that he is just hearing one side of the story," Gutierrez said.