Thursday, December 22, 2016

Donald Trump and Raul Castro

Donald Trump and Raul Castro / Dimas Castellano

Dimas Castellano, 29 November 2016 — The great majority of Cubans were
surprised by Donald Trump's electoral victory. Surveys in other
countries, and the official Cuban press, labelling Hillary Clinton as
the favourite, created false expectations.

Since the results have become known, all sorts of opinions have been put
forward. Some believe that Trump is a dangerous man, who will damage
things, others that he will demand more from Havana, and they are happy
about that, and many are worried that there will be a setback to
relations and regret his triumph, while a majority are unhappy with the
official press campaign against president Barack Obama's policy.

What almost everyone is agreed upon is the poor state in which Cuba
finds itself, and the need to emigrate.

Going back on the established improvements in relations will be
extremely difficult. Why is that? Because of the division of public
authorities, the existence of a diversity of interest groups, and its
institutionalisation in the United States.

The president could limit or eliminate some things, but not everything,
because that would imply affecting North American interests. Quite
simply, electoral populism is one thing, and presiding over an
institutionalised country is quite another.

Even supposing that Trump really could be a threat to the improved
relations with Cuba which Barack Obama managed to achieve — in my
opinion the most important political act in the last half century in
Cuba — the biggest danger of sliding backwards up to now has been, and
still is, the Cuban side of things.

Nationalisation, centralised planning, and the absence of liberties, are
among the principal causes of the permanent crisis in which Cuba finds
itself. The Obama administration's policy offered an opportunity for
change, which was missed by the Cuban side.

Therefore, whatever risk the Trump administration might represent would
be less than the negative influence of the Cuban government, trapped in
an insoluble contradiction between changing and at the same time
preserving power.

Fidel Castro's thesis that "Cuba already changed, in 1959," produced a
more pragmatic vision than General Raúl Castro's one of "changing some
things to hold onto power." Nevertheless, the measures implemented to
that end have not brought about the desired result, because of a
conflict of powers. Instead, they have revealed the unviability of the
economic and social model and the depth of the crisis.

The series of measures enacted by the White House have, among other
things, led to increased tourism and remittances sent to families, the
first cruise ship has arrived, flights have restarted, agreements
reached with American telecommunication companies, negotiations with
other countries and restructuring of external debts. Meanwhile
the Presidential Decision Directive of last November was aimed at
rendering irreversible the advances achieved.

If those measures have not produced a better outcome, it is because the
obstacles in the path of production and the absence of civil liberties
in Cuba have prevented it. For that reason, changes are dependent on the
Cuban authorities, rather than on Trump. To tackle these changes now,
albeit very late, would neutralise any intention by Trump to set things

Bearing in mind that the suspension of the embargo is the prerogative of
the United States Congress, what is needed now, after the "physical
disappearance" of Fidel Castro, is to get on with a comprehensive
structural reform, like that carried out by the Vietnamese, who, having
abandoned centralised planning and adopted a market economy, have
positioned themselves as the 28th largest exporter in the world.

Taken from: El Comercio, Peru

Translated by GH

Source: Donald Trump and Raul Castro / Dimas Castellano – Translating
Cuba -

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