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Trump’s absurd reversal of relations with Cuba

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ON NOVEMBER 7, 2019, the United Nations General Assembly passed its 28th consecutive year resolution condemning the United States economic embargo of Cuba.

Again, it had overwhelming support, with only Brazil, Israel, and the US against, Colombia and the Ukraine abstaining.

The fact that the overwhelming majority supported the resolution means little to the United States, especially under Trump, who seems only to want to please his base and to flaunt his power in doing so. This goes back to 1960 when the trade embargo was introduced following tensions with Cuba.

This position of the US in how it relates to Cuba is totally anachronistic. What is ironic about this is that the US has relationships with a number of countries guilty of what they are accusing Cuba. Apart from the President’s desire to please the Cuban-American base in Florida with elections coming soon, it is part of his demonic efforts to reverse everything that Obama did. We have seen this in the US pulling away from the Climate Change Agreement and moving away from the Iran deal which came after a long and difficult process. Climate change is a serious threat to the global economy and really to the planet, the last decade being the warmest on record.

His pulling out of the Iran Deal has placed the world in a very tense situation that can easily degenerate into serious wars in the middle east and beyond.

There was much hope when in December 2014 Presidents Barrack Obama and Raul Castro signalled the process of normalising relations that led to the restoration of diplomatic ties.

Obama visited Cuba in March 2016, being the first President to do so since the Cuban Revolution, in fact since President Calvin Coolidge attended the Pan American conference there in 1928. The period of détente held out much hope for the Cuban people who had suffered years of hardship, created to a large extent, by the embargo.

Pope Francis was credited with paving the way for this new path. Obviously, Cuba was not going to change overnight to please anyone, but things were beginning to happen, including the extension of the private sector. Obama of course had to be careful how he steered his course, realising that even within his party there were persons opposed to the opening up of diplomatic relations. He of course, angered some in Cuba when he made the point that the Afro- Cuban struggle had not yet concluded. He was however prepared to build on their commonalities. The tensions had existed since 1959 when Castro addressed the UN General Assembly and was restricted in his travel in the US, facing some unpleasantries from US officialdom. He however visited Harlem where he was greeted by thousands who turned out to see and to cheer him. On his return while addressing a mass rally four bombs exploded. The early 1960s witnessed several attempts supported by the US to have the Cuban leader assassinated. This included the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.

Obama’s opening of a new path held much hope for the future. He had eased the restrictions on travel and on the Cuban people sending remittances home. Americans were allowed to visit Cuba for religious and educational purposes. A number of other initiatives were started. Trump is now pulling back on all of these. He has, among others, slashed the amount of money that can be sent to Cuba by relatives. He has put restrictions on travel, blocking cruise ships from docking in Havana and has reopened the path for US citizens to sue Cuban companies. Trump’s madness knows no end and might even get worse with the starting of the impeachment proceedings in the Senate.

● Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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