Just south of Florida lies the ostracized paradise of the idyllic island nation of Cuba. The now communist state, led by Raul Castro, has evolved from one of America’s allies to now a nation that the USA fails to see eye to eye with. The Obama administration made attempts to redeem their relationship and things looked up for the future between the two countries. Yet Donald Trump’s new government has different plans, leaving Cuba in an insecure position for its future with its superpower neighbour.
A Troubled History
In 1898 the USA helped Cuba gain their independence from being a colony of Spain. For the next half decade, Cuba and America were essentially allies. However much of the trade was done on America’s terms and for their benefit with all oil refineries owned by the USA, 90% of the communications and energy business as well as other entities. This was made possible under the rule of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. In 1959 the Cuban people rebelled against him under the new leader Fidel Castro.
Following the USA’s failed invasion attempt to regain control, Castro made deals with the then USSR leader Khrushchev, making Cuba communist. After the periods of high tension during the Cold War, the USA taught the world a lesson in how to hold a grudge. It was incredibly difficult to travel between the two countries and the trade embargo between the two countries prevented all American businesses from conducting business with Cuban interests.
The Obama Thaw
In December 2014, following months of secret talks, the then US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro simultaneously announced an agenda to open up the rift between the Cold War enemies. Political prisoners were swapped and over the next two years, Cuba opened up to the west. The US embassy in Havana was re-opened following its closure in 1961 and many American companies began to stake their interests in the nation.
Google attempted to help the island improve their communications by introducing their data servers into the country. Airbnb is also investing in the country, now offering over 1,000 listings in Havana. Due to the removal of the travel ban, US Airlines and cruise companies have now resumed operating to the island. Theoretically, these moves are highlights of a potentially brighter future between the two countries.
Obama’s critics declare that he failed to make sufficient concessions on the human rights issues in the country due to the lack of democracy. The Cuban communist regime does not permit any other party and hence does not allow free elections. Opposition to the communists are frequently harassed or detained. In the earlier times of Castro’s rule, oppositions to the revolution were executed.
And now Trump
Recently in June 2017, Trump slammed the Obama administration’s foreign policy and outlined his plans saying he proposes, “cancelling the last administrations completely one-sided deal with Cuba.” Despite these bold words by the new president, the reality reflects a far more partial shift. The new foreign embassies remain open in Havana and Washington and there will be no further restrictions on the types of goods that can be taken out of Cuba by American citizens. However, the new administration aims to tighten travel regulation and commerce with the Cuban nation and in the process, Trump has instructed Rex Tillerson to increase opposition to the UN who propose to fully lift the trade embargo.
To the Future
The relationship between America and Cuba have been marred for decades. No simple agreement is going to change this and the lack of free market economies in Cuba makes it harder for the USA to seek trade deals and to open the country due to the monopolised power of planning from the government. The USA seeks to open negotiations for the future; yet as with many matters of international relations with the new president, much speculation rises around the issue. There is not much we can do but wait for future developments on the ever-going roller-coaster relationship between Washington D.C and Havana.