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CUBA
The return to the cold war
Latinamerica Press
6/28/2017
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US President Donald Trump announced the cancelation of the opening of diplomatic relations agreement with Cuba.

“A free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” said US President Donald Trump on June 16 during a speech in Miami for an audience made up of Cuban exiles that applauded frantically.

According to Trump, the rapprochement policies towards Cuba initiated by ex-President Barack Obama (2009-2017) do nothing to favor the Cuban people; they only enrich the Cuban regime.

On Dec. 17, 2014, Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the start of a dialogue to reestablish diplomatic relations between the two countries that was broken in 1961; an accord that had Pope Francis as its mediator.

Obama defended the reopening of relations between the United States and Cuba as a way to put an end to a policy that did not give the results expected by successive US presidencies since 1960 to promote internal changes in the island. Since the reopening, travel by US citizens to the island has increased, maritime and air communication got reestablished, and the island’s economy improved; but the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade never took place, nor the closing of the US military base in Guantánamo due to the negative response from the Republican majority Congress, responsible for approving such measures.

Despite Obama emitted executive orders for the closing of Guantánamo, he never achieved that the closure take place, similarly with the lifting of the embargo, although he signed a series of measures to alleviate it.

“Effective immediately, I am cancelling the last Administration´s completely one sided deal with Cuba,” Trump said. “I am announcing today a new policy, just as I promised during the campaign.”

“Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America.  We do not want US dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba,” he added.

The measures announced by Trump include restrictions on the flow of American dollars into Cuba “that flow to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of Castro’s regime,” enforcing the ban on tourism, as well as the embargo. He also said that he will take “concrete steps to ensure that the flow of investment goes directly to the people, so they can open private businesses.”

Cuba’s answer
The Cuban government, in a statement, described the new policy of the United States towards the island as a “step back,” whose objective is to deprive the island of revenues.

“The United States government again resorts to coercive methods of the past by adopting measures to intensify the blockade,” it read. “This not only causes harm and deprives the Cuban people, and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to the development of our economy, but it also affects the interests of other countries, provoking the international rejection.”

It stressed that “any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, be it attempting to achieve this through pressure or impositions, or by using more subtle methods, will be doomed to fail,” although the Cuban government reiterated their willingness to continue with respectful dialogue.

However, Trump did not announce the closing of the US Embassy in Cuba or the reestablishment of migratory benefits that Cuban citizens had been enjoying since the 1960s. This past Jan. 12, eight days before the end of his term, Obama put an end to the “wet feet/dry feet” policy, which allowed any Cuban person to remain legally in the Unites States and to have access to a resident visa. From that day on, any Cuban person wishing to travel to the United States has to obtain a visa.

The “wet feet/dry feet” policy was implemented in 1995 during the government of former President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) brought on by the Cuban “boat people” crisis in which thousands of Cubans took to the sea looking to reach US coasts, fleeing the economic debacle in the island as a direct consequence of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the tightening of the US embargo against Cuba. This policy meant that people intercepted in US territorial waters (wet feet) would not be admitted and would be relocated back to Cuba or to a third country, while those people who made it to the coast (dry feet) could remain in the United States and have access to a residence visa, according to the Cuban Adjustment Act.

The Cuban Adjustment Act, which remains in force, was approved in 1966 and permitted the admission of Cubans into the United States as refugees to live and work legally. Today, only a year after entering the United States with a visa, persons of Cuban citizenship can benefit from the Cuban Adjustment Act. For the Cuban government, the law stimulates irregular emigration from Cuba to the United States, particularly of highly qualified professionals.

Meanwhile, there is an electoral process taking place in Cuba that begins on Oct. 22 with the election of delegates to the municipal assemblies and later the election provincial delegates, and finally the representatives of the National Assembly that in February has to elect a new president. Castro, 86, already announced that he will step down due to health reasons; one of the most mentioned to replace him is the First Vice-President Miguel Díaz-Canel, a 56-year-old computer engineer. —Latinamerica Press.


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