Trump's new policy toward Cuba has had more forecasts than a disturbance in the Caribbean.
Many were freaked out that these winds would recur, going back to December 16, 2014, and sweep away the deals with Obama. The furious of Miami announced a wave that would return us to the ice age of G.W. Bush, and the blacklist of terrorist countries. Most weather commentators were divided between pessimists and very pessimistic.
For other minorities such as mine, that Trump could override Obama's directive and ban commercial licenses with GAE companies, in addition to continuing with his chatter about human rights and freedoms, was in the cards. It was very unlikely, however, that, for its own interests, he would block cooperation in national security, travel or licenses, such as those granted to commercial airlines, and others (see my interview with Fabiola López, Telesur, June 12).
Now that the disturbance has come out of the sea and entered the earth, we can measure how far the water has penetrated. In terms of visits, it has been downgraded, not to 2014, but to 2015-2016, when to come to Cuba based on people-to-people they had to do it in a group. FAR and MININT companies were blacklisted. Obama's "Presidential Directive towards Cuba" was annulled. On human rights and blockade, we are where we already know.
Most of the 22 signed agreements remain. No cooperation in security, embassies, rules for remittances, trips without limit for Cuban-Americans and Americans, end of wet-foot/dry-foot, talks about migration, environment, and other subjects, licenses to trade with Cuban non-state companies, academic and cultural exchanges, none of that which had been achieved with Obama has been destroyed.
Despite its negative effect, the noise of this gust has been (and is) greater than the actual damage. There are several reasons for this. In Miami, the furious used it just to boast, for although they did not achieve any of their announced goals, the presidential declaration served for a political show-off. To the Cuban government, it allowed him to update his position before this presidency, using a very carefully calibrated dropper: we reject, but we do not fight, we remain ready to negotiate. To our friends, it encouraged them to reiterate their permanent solidarity. To Cubans, it reminded them of the old face of the US power that is not that of a smiling African American. To our non-enemies, partners, etc., it made them shake their heads at another awkwardness of this president, although not the worst of them all.
It may be too early, perhaps, to estimate all the technical details of this damage. While the tide did not reach the forecasts, there is still uncertainty about licenses for telecoms or hotels, joint testing for cancer vaccines, dollar uses, and credit cards. On the other hand, however, neither freedom to travel nor free trade went to the bottom of the sea. Congress and the Supreme Court can throw them lifelines to stay afloat. As always, the interests generate political winds, which do not stop blowing, even after a cyclone.
Translation: Walter Lippmann
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