|Wednesday, 30 November 2016 17:46|
"Will Castro's death begin Cuba's transition?"
By: Arthur M. Freyre
This is the question that many in the media and foreign policy establishments focused on this past weekend. As many are aware, Fidel Castro relinquished most of his power to his younger brother Raul in 2006 when he became ill. Raul has stated that he will not be running for re-election in 2018, passing power and control of Cuba to his son.
The incoming Trump Administration issued a press release on Saturday regarding the death of Cuba’s former leader. The statement gave a preview of what the Cuba policy may look like under the new administration incorporating many elements of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act.
The prospective changes on US-Cuba policy were reinforced by Reince Priebus, the incoming Chief of Staff for President-elect Trump who noted that Mr. Trump would “absolutely” reverse President Obama’s opening to Cuba. Priebus further stated, “Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners—these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships, and that’s what President-elect Trump believes, and that’s where he’s going to head.”
During his campaign, Mr. Trump pledged that he would reverse the concessions made by the Obama Administration to the Cuban government unless they meet his demands. We anticipate that the incoming Trump administration will follow through in reversing some of President Obama’s Executive Orders. And based on the President-elect’s discourse over the past month, it seems that the orders that are most likely to be reversed will focus on commerce, especially in the areas of banking and credit financing. These and other restrictions, such as tourism, may be used as leverage against the Cuban government to influence the changes that are necessary for diplomatic relations.
Though the current bilateral talks initiated by the Obama Administration had a promising start, the progress has been virtually non-existent. Whether or not the Trump Administration continues the ongoing bilateral negotiations depends on the actions taken by the Cuban government.
In closing, there will be a transition in Cuba after Fidel Castro’s death. The proper question is what will this transition look like? And will it last? One major challenge facing the United States is to win the propaganda battle regarding its policy and put pressure on the Cuban government, who is ultimately responsible for taking the necessary steps for not only lifting the embargo, but also becoming a part of the global economy.
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