White House

What Donald Trump does with Cuba deal depends on 'which Trump shows up,' expert says

Henken: Trump sent mixed signals on Cuba during campaign

While President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the deal between the United States and Cuba, that may not necessarily happen, one expert told CNBC on Monday.

That's because he sent mixed signals during his campaign, Baruch College professor Ted Henken said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

At one point, Trump said he approved of President Barack Obama's reopening of relations with Cuba, but said he would have gotten a better deal, Henken noted.

On Monday, he tweeted that he would cancel the deal if Cuba doesn't make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban-American people and the U.S. as a whole.

"It kind of depends partly on which Trump shows up on January 20. Is it the dealmaker, is it the let's make a deal guy, the businessman, the pragmatist? Or is it the sabre rattler, someone who would embrace potentially the embargo and the kind of Republican hardline toward Cuba?" said Henken.

Trump's tweet followed his statement over the weekend about Fidel Castro's death, in which he condemned Castro for oppressing his people.

The U.S. and Cuba began normalizing relations in December 2014 and have since restored full diplomatic ties.

Travel restrictions have eased for U.S. citizens, although general tourism remains illegal. On Monday, commercial flights to Cuba resumed.

Castro's death & the US-Cuba relationship

While Trump could reverse those flights with the stroke of a pen, it's unlikely he'll do that, said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

Instead, he believes in the short- to medium-term there will more likely be an increase in enforcement.

"He can increase the hassle factor and that's quite likely what he's going to do," Kavulich told "Power Lunch."

"He won't suspend the flights because the vast majority of people that are taking these flights are people of Cuban dissent going to visit their families and he's not going to want to cut that off."

Kavulich said Trump and his advisors see U.S. dollars being spent in Cuba, but no return.

"They see that the U.S. has done an awful lot. They see that Cuba has done little. They see Cuban government saying 'yes if it brings us revenue' and 'we'll take it under advisement if it costs us something,'" he said.

— Reuters contributed to this report.