Is Trump Really So Bad for Cuba?

By Fernando Ravsberg

1-donald-trumpHAVANA TIMES — Cuba’s reaction in the face of Donald Trump’s presidential victory was to announce that military maneuvers would be carried out across the country, as the official newspaper’s headline news. This is nothing more than a routine exercise but it has been announced on the front page, along with Donald Trump’s victory.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces have assured us that the objective is strictly to train military officials “in the organization of work so as to increase the country’s defense and to prepare troops and the Cuban people to confront the different actions of the enemy.”

Some believe that is just pure coincidence but there is never coincidence in Cuban politics and the Communist Party’s official newspaper doesn’t publish anything the day after a US election without it being previously revised by the political administration.

It seems like this is a message directed at the new tenant in the White House, who had toughened his discourse with regard to Cuba as the campaign drew on until he ended up in the State of Florida claiming that he would reverse all of Barack Obama’s policies relating to the island.

The greatest weakness of the now outgoing president’s “legacy” is that his successor can turn things on their head without too much legal headache. To go back on the progress that has been made, Trump relies on the support and pressure that Cuban-American politicians in Congress, among them the reelected Marco Rubio.

Los ejercicios militares Bastión, que se anuncian junto a la noticia de la elección de Trump, se iniciaron cuando ganó las elecciones Ronald Reagan. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz
Los ejercicios militares Bastión, que se anuncian junto a la noticia de la elección de Trump, se iniciaron cuando ganó las elecciones Ronald Reagan. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

However, it’s worth remembering that the new leader is also a businessman and as such, had previously sent messengers to Cuba to investigate investment opportunities, well before Obama began the thawing process and going against the Embargo law that forbade it.

Furthermore, during his nomination campaign ro run for the Republican Party, he really clashed hard with other candidates who were of Cuban origin, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. It’ll be hard for them now to demand that Trump adopt their political strategies against Cuba.

Even though they share some common interests, Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance could link in with Marco Rubio’s efforts to castrate the Cuban Adjustment Act, which grants residency to every Cuban citizen who steps foot on US soil.

The Cuban government has been cautious, Granma newspaper limited itself to saying that Trump had won “thanks to the millions of US votes, the majority of them made by white people from rural areas, who were unhappy with the course their country was taking and who were disillusioned by Washington’s traditional political figures.”

On the street, ordinary Cubans took the news with more unease. They had hoped that Hillary Clinton would end the embargo once and for all, which has been hanging over Cuba for more than half a century and whose explicit objective is to create hunger, misery and despair among the population.

Thousands of artisans, owners of restaurants, hostals, cafes or bars, their employees and everyone else who directly or indirectly benefits from the surge in tourism that has been brought about by the warming of relations between Washington and Havana, are afraid that they will be negatively affected.

Although for Cuban authorities, it would be easier to deal with a transparent Trump than with the experienced Clinton. She would have continued on with Obama’s policies, a coherent and well-versed strategy that was aimed at winning over the hearts of Cubans.

3-mujeres-en-la-calle
Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Ironically, Trump could even contribute to the unity between Cuban revolutionaries who have recently had very different opinions about how to tackle Obama’s policies. Now, for better or worse, everything will be more crystal-clear, without room for real or paranoid suspicions.

There’s no doubt about it, Trump is right-wing but, unlike George W. Bush, he doesn’t owe his victory to Florida and he doesn’t have any kind of special friendship with anti-Castro politicians and Cubans who make up the wave of Latin American immigrants that this new president will reject and turn back.

It’s still too early to know just what course of action Donald Trump will take regarding Cuba. Havana seems to have sent him two messages: Cuba is preparing for the worst case scenario but without starting a verbal attack, giving Trump the chance to make the first moves.


18 thoughts on “Is Trump Really So Bad for Cuba?

  • December 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm
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    As I live in Cuba, I know the reality. You and I Javier also know that to talk about any of the Castro controlled state media – including cubadebate – as practicing “journalism” is derisory.
    Maybe you regard Mesa Redondo as true debate whereas in reality the smarmy host Randy Alonso Falcon is a true adherent to political distortion and the supposed contributors have to constantly refer to the prepared texts in front of them. Although Dossier endeavors to be serious, the host Walter Martinez stands in front of a world map where all the names are in English not Spanish and views that world through his one good eye – appropriately the left one.
    Granma is a you know, the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba and for quite a few year devoted two pages daily to the peculiar musings and ramblings of a failing Fidel Castro – who even questioned whether The UK was a member of the OAS and who criticized Canadian mining companies for their environmental standards having himself approved the nickel mine at Moa being operated by Sherrit International.
    Every single periodista (reporter) in Cuba is controlled by the state! None are independent.

  • December 19, 2016 at 7:55 pm
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    I speak to real Cubans in Cuba on a regular basis… And by the way cubadebate can teach Miami about journalism..

  • November 26, 2016 at 11:49 am
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    Donald Trump and Putin can and will make deals.. Cuba is too important for status quo now.. the cold war is over, and both people should see there is great things to learn from Cuba.. and to share from the US , with respect and oportunity for all while keeping big businnesses in check.. as Trump had said, while keeping healthcare top class in the Americas.. we need to be friends not cold war enemys

  • November 16, 2016 at 5:06 pm
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    For those that have trouble with the language-the Cuban people know the regimes enemy which is the cuban people. In time, the Castro’s will lose their grip and the Cuban people will end their run. It will not come from the north but rather from within. If the US Military came in, the Cuban army would be folded in a day. They are not the ill-equipped or ill-trained like the exile army at the Bay of Pigs. They swept the Iraqi army in 1991, then the 3rd largest in the world, in 72 hours. It is unlikely that the Cuban people would stand up for the Castro army and they would melt away like roaches from the light. There would be little to no support for any guerrilla actions and in a short time, the Cuban people would be forming a new Castro free army.

  • November 15, 2016 at 7:22 pm
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    Great point N.J. Could be very interesting. Florida’s Cuban representatives would have be on board so the positioning should be awesome, hopefully for those living in Cuba as well.

  • November 12, 2016 at 7:04 pm
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    Hehe

  • November 12, 2016 at 5:48 am
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    Simply not true

  • November 12, 2016 at 3:10 am
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    Prepare for what enemy? Does Mr Castro mean the rest of the world? This type of rhetoric suit’s the Castro regime right down to the ground, he continues to keep the Cuban people in a glass fishbowl and they are only permitted a distorted view of most of the going on’s in the rest of the world. I did not put free world because the rest of the world is not free, some countries like Haiti treat their people in a very similar way that Mr Castro treats the Cuban, whilst the rest of us who are outside the glass bowl attempt to get on with living our lives as best we can. In 2017 I can see more people throughout the world breaking their glass bowls and then swimming with the rest of mankind, however we must always remember that we will still have sharks swimming amongst us waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting and unprepared prey at any time!

  • November 11, 2016 at 9:21 am
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    I suppose a exercise is one kind of operation, but you are correct and it is better to be more accurate. It’s a military exercise. Thank you.

  • November 10, 2016 at 9:59 pm
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    Clinton would have maintained policy, but would not have succeeded in getting Republican congress to lift embargo. Trump could get embargo lifted. But he will want something. Settling the old property claims would go along way.

  • November 10, 2016 at 8:52 pm
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    This is what happens when you get your information from cubadebate.cu

  • November 10, 2016 at 8:51 pm
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    “Every Cuban knows who the Castro regime see[s] as their real enemy: the Cuban people”
    If you disagree with this statement, tell me why: Internet is censored and banned for home use, their press is only less controlled than North Korea’s. Why do you think that is? It surely isn’t to “have a well educated populous”. It is for one reason – to keep the Cuban people from knowing that they can be free if they choose and if they choose freedom their lives will get better.

    Don’t be an idiot. Don’t act like you don’t know.

  • November 10, 2016 at 3:45 pm
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    military operation? I think is a military exercise. Military operations are going on in Libya, Syria and Yemen.

  • November 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm
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    If you write “This is nothing more than a routine exercise”, then why you begin with “Cuba’s reaction in the face of Donald Trump’s presidential victory…”? The two events are not related.

  • November 10, 2016 at 3:41 pm
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    The overwhelming majority still support the Cuban Revolution and that is a fact that you don’t seem to comprehend…

  • November 10, 2016 at 2:44 pm
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    You are thinking of the Cubans who still support the Castro regime, and yes, there are many who still do. But they too share the opinion of the Castro regime that a free people are the greatest threat to their continued grip on power. The Castro supporters in Cuba understand this military operation is aimed at cowing the growing number of people protesting against the dictatorship and demanding democracy and respect for human rights.

  • November 10, 2016 at 11:07 am
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    ” Every Cuban knows who the Castro regime see[s] as their real enemy: the Cuban people”
    Really ?? Congratulations Griffin. You’ve already honed your Trumpian hyperbole. And just like the Donald’s, it’s about as far from the truth as it can get.

  • November 10, 2016 at 9:12 am
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    I disagree with Fernando’s analysis. Trump won Florida with 49.1% of the vote, to Hillary’s 47.8%. The Cuban-American voters turned out in large numbers to vote for Marco Rubio and the other Cuban-American candidates, and it seems they pulled for Trump too while they were at it. If Trump had not won Florida, it would have been a much closer election. Trump will need allies in Congress to get anything done, and Marco Rubio will be among the strongest voices. He would be wise to listen.

    While campaigning in Miami, Trump pledged to undo Obama’s policy of normalization with the Castro regime. He made the point that Obama drove a very bad bargain and that he would get a better deal with Havana.

    I expect Trump will roll back some of Obama’s concessions, but not all. The US will keep their embassy in Havana, and Cuba theirs in Washington. But with the Republicans in control of both the Senate and the House, the move to lift the US embargo is dead in the water.

    Raul dragged his feet and lost the best chance he had for improving conditions in Cuba under her own terms. The changes will come, driven from below by the Cuban people, and from the Cuban diaspora who are want to help their loved ones back home. The Castro regime will crack down on dissidents and try to stop it, but they will not be able to stop it for long.

    The Cuban military exercises planned for next week were announced as an action against “the enemy”, an implied warning to the USA & Trump. But every Cuban knows who the Castro regime see as their real enemy: the Cuban people. The military operation is a show of regime strength, aimed at the Cuba people, warning them to stay in their place.

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