Dwindling Hope in Cuba    

Five years ago, on December 17, 2014, U.S. President Obama and Cuba President Raúl Castro simultaneously announced that their two countries had embarked on a process of normalization and reconciliation that continued through the rest of Obama’s presidency that ended on January 20, 2017. [1] President Trump, however, has halted that process and in fact has adopted many hostile policies regarding the island.

On the fifth anniversary of the Obama/Castro announcement, journalists from the Associated Press walked through Havana to ask Cubans how they felt about the current conditions on the island. Overall, the journalists said, “it feels almost as if that historic moment never happened.. . . Now, the two years of detente under Obama feel like a temporary break in a long history of tension and struggle that has no end in sight.”[2]

“The Cuban economy is stagnant, with tourism numbers flat and aid from Venezuela far below its historic peak as Cuba’s oil-rich chief ally fights through its own long crisis.”[3]

Antoin Ugartez, a 42-year-old father of three who rents a three-wheeled covered scooter known as a Cocotaxi from a state-run agency, said the post-Trump decline in tourism had hit him hard. Detente, he said, “was a great step forward for Cuban society. Things developed and you started to see different perspectives, a different vision of economic improvement for your family, the conditions you live in.” Now, he said, “I barely make enough to put food on the table.”

On December 16, 2019 (the day before the fifth anniversary), Cuba’s Foreign Ministry’s General Director for U.S. Affairs, Fernández de Cossio, said, “There are powerful people today in the U.S. government that want to increasingly apply hostile measures and sever our bilateral relationship. If that were to be the case, we are ready to face that reality, but it is not what the people of Cuba want and not what the government of Cuba is seeking.”[4]

In an apparent response to this Cuban comment, an anonymous State Department official said, “”While there are no plans to break off diplomatic ties at this time, one thing that has clearly reached a low point is the Castro regime’s abuses of its own people. In addition, the regime is spreading its totalitarian repression to other countries in the region.”

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[1] U.S. and Cuba Embark on Reconciliation, dwkcommentaries.com (Dec.  21, 2014).

[2] Assoc. Press, 5 Years After Detent With US, Cubans Say Hope Has Dwindled, N.Y. times (Dec. 17, 2019).

[3]  On December 12, 2019, the Cuban government announced that foreign visitors for the year were only slightly more than four million versus predictions of more than five million. Taxi drivers, classic car tours, private bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other private businesses dependent on foreign visitors have been especially suffering with this lower number. (Assoc. Press, Cuba Tourists Barely Pass 4 Million, in Disappointing Result, N.Y. Times (Dec. 12, 2019).)

[4]  Reuters, Cuba Says It Is Prepared if U.S. Chooses to Sever Diplomatic Ties, N.Y. Times (Dec. 16, 2019).

 

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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