Trump’s Cuba Policy and its Repercussions

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — “Trump is a son of a bitch”: this is how Alberto, a street seller, defines him. “Now we really aren’t going to do better off; this crazy old man doesn’t have God’s forgiveness,” said Susana, while she served a soft drink in a cafe.

When asked the same question (What do you think about Trump’s recent actions towards Cuba?), another twenty-three people responded in the same vein.

Apparently, very few people here in Cuba see the new US policy, which was announced on June 16th in Miami, in a favorable light. They automatically blame the controversial White House resident of being “hostile” and they believe that he only wants to destroy the small advance Obama managed to achieve in US-Cuba relations.

But, do they know anything about GAESA?

“GAESA? What is that? – This must be another US invention to justify the blockade.”

“Boy, we are sick of all this GAESA and military business talk in my home. It must be a lie. I have never heard anyone speak about it, in my 46 years of existence! I refuse to believe it; these people have their problems, come on, we all admit that; but I don’t think they have cheated the Cuban people in this way. Be serious!”

It is just as hard to find somebody who knows what GAESA is among ordinary people. Out of the 25 people I interviewed, two were employees at a Caribbean TRD (hard-currency) store. One is young, but the other one isn’t that young anymore and he is a founding member of the chain.

Photo: Juan Suarez

“Well, this must be a great lie, because I’ve been working here for 20 years and I have never heard anyone mention this GAESA. And from what I know, this company belongs to the State. People always say “this is run by the military” as a joke; I’m sure it’s because the main leaders are retired militarymen. But, the thing is they need trustworthy people, not because they are the owners. I don’t believe that.”

It makes sense that opinions on the island are in this line, that there are doubts and a lack of awareness. The Government is still controlling the media and they use it to make their message ring loud and clear. However, whether what is being said or speculated about these mysterious military companies is true or not, the truth is that there isn’t any public transparency. And the worst thing is that the Cuban people are the owners, hypothetically-speaking, and they don’t know about its existence and its institutions aren’t being regulated. This really stinks of something.

It is also a fact that Trump is very unpopular among the same Cubans who he says he is trying to liberate. He is seen by them as a “partner” of the extreme Right in Florida, who are supporting the embargo and that’s reason enough for them to be despised on the island.

Maybe it was wrong for Obama to negotiate with the Cuban government to end the hostility between both nations without asking for anything in return; just with the hope that a more capitalist economy would bring about democracy. Maybe it would have been better, at the time, to have taken a stance like the one the new President is doing right now, as a conditioned first step.

Run by the Armed Forces, GAESA is by far Cuba’s largest business group.

But, we have yet to see whether going back on this rapprochement will be a bigger mistake, after having started a process which won over a lot of support worldwide. We have also yet to see whether all of this isn’t anything more than a US domestic policy game, rather than an action which encourages the Cuban democratic cause. These questions linger in the air and will only disappear over time.

However, there has been one total success: Trump has put the huge problem of Cuban military companies and their control of national wealth on the table and in public debate, for the first time to this extent. Now, everybody will ask, in Cuba and across the globe: What is GAESA?

The mysterious business group run by the Cuban military which controls a significant percentage of the Cuban economy, is no longer a secret. And even though Cubans are a bit skeptical, now they are beginning to be filled with doubt: and that is the first step in unveiling the truth about our system.

7 thoughts on “Trump’s Cuba Policy and its Repercussions

  • Old man Trump returns to Soviet era policies that have failed for over half a century. Meanwhile American’s get screwed because they can’t travel freely; nor buy cheap Cuban: Rum, Sugar, and coffee. Average Cubans get screwed because they miss out on American tourist dollars. Everyone except for ancient right wing Cuban extremists in Miami hate the new status quo because it’s a lose/lose proposition..

  • Why do you have to keep proving your ignorance regarding Cuba?
    GAESA controls over 80% of the Cuban economy – and you cannot disprove that!

  • What utter nonsense about the military owning all the developments of the Cuban Economy? Only President Trump could come up with a story like that. Cuba is not ruled or governed by a military Junta? Carlyle you and Havana Times try to give the outside world the impression that the Cuban people have no say in the running of their country. There is more democracy in Cuba than what exists in The USA! Why do so much money have to be spent on elections in the USA? Why is it that the big corporations have to provide so much cash to the campaign fund?. Can the poor man on the street who can barely provide $10.00 be benefited with the same privileges as the corporations which donate millions to the campaign? What is this thing they call DEMOCRACY IN CAPITALIST USA?

  • My guess it that many Cubans want the benefit of improved trade with the US and are not necessarily interested in what is motivating Trump’s policy.

  • Why so much of the business sector in Cuba is in the hands of The Military is indeed an interesting question.
    However the bigger point is perhaps this:
    The USA trades on an equal basis with many countries around the world. China (A much more one party state) has very larger investments in the USA than any other country has since the USA’s inception. The USA sells and has sold weaponry and all types of other products to all manner of countries who do not conform to the ‘multi party’ system it holds to be orthodox.

    President Obama surely had a sniff of the coffee and recognised that he had no right whatsoever to ‘ask for anything in return’. To his very great credit, he sought to normalise an abnormal situation.
    An abnormal situation stemming form an imperialistic US policy that seeks unfair and undue influence over the sovereign nation of Cuba.

    There is no ‘defence’ or ‘national security’ issue (real or imaginary) as there arguably was during the bad old days of the Cold War.
    Given US normal relations with various other countries of the world, there are obviously no such big high minded moral grounds in play such as ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’ or anything else.

    In reality the real reasons for this policy have always been basically twofold:
    1 – SPITE: From 1959 onward Cuba has quite legitimately asserted it’s prerogative to not ‘toe the line’. It has resisted many US attempts at overturning its sovereign rights as a nation and has therefore been, in US eyes, a malign influence in a region often referred to as The USA’s backyard. The USA has never been keen on this in the same way that the mythical Goliath was none too hot on David.
    2 – VOTES: From 1959 onward the Anti Revolutionary Miami hard liners have managed to convince both major US political parties that it is they and they alone who are in a position to award FLA Electoral College Votes to the candidate/party who can be seen to act ‘tougher’ on Cuba.

    US Presidents and political parties know this to be the case.
    The hard liners down in Miami know this to be the case.
    The rest of the world clearly knows this to be the case because its so blindingly obvious.
    And, despite all the one-sided rhetoric poured on them by their own authoritarian government, the Cuban people also correctly know this to be the case.

    The rest of it, whether it’s Fidel Castro or any other Castro or Communists or ‘Countries which Support Terrorism’ or GAESA or anything else is merely a big fat joke of a pretext.

  • For fifty eight years the Castro regime has controlled and minimized the flow of information to the people of Cuba. Just imagine, Cubans don’t know about GAESA and it controls 80% of their economy.
    Furthermore, they don’t know who controls GAESA but a few know that it is military. How many know that it’s all in the Castro family with Raul’s son-in-law holding the reins?
    Raul Castro has yet to say that he will retire as Head of the military – the power and control is firmly in his hands – and so is the responsibility for pursuit of his belief that keeping the people of Cuba ill-informed and in ignorance is justified.

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