Trump’s move to slam the door on advancing the process of normalizing relations with Cuba has not surprised anyone. The Republican president was especially critical of the historic thaw between the U.S. and the island, a thaw that was supported by Obama last year. Trump promised to reverse the situation if he came to the White House, especially since the support of anti-Castro sectors was essential to winning the election.
Realpolitik has its limits, and Trump does not intend to break diplomatic ties with Havana. But he has resumed the hostile rhetoric to which he has made us accustomed and issued a fiery defense of the embargo. Above all, he has reversed the economic opening. Washington will once again limit American travel to Cuba and ban transactions with Cuba’s huge conglomerate of military companies, which handles the bulk of its business, as the military companies control both the state and tourist sectors. By changing the position of his predecessor, Trump intends to raise the pressure on the Castro regime, and he is not prepared for any kind of rapprochement as long as there are no pro-democratic advances or gestures, such as the release of political prisoners.
It is true that the thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, which was well received by the entire international community, implied considerations on the part of Havana that have not been provided. Far from having produced any openness or progress with respect for human rights and freedoms, Castro-ism has completely rooted itself in Cuba. Given that point of view, there is no reason to criticize Trump for applying pressure. However, U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba must be balanced, and extremely intelligently so, in support of Cubans. Falling back into a state of maximum tension between the two countries would be very counterproductive.