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US retracts on relations with Cuba
July 2, 2017, 4:53 pm

In mid-June, during a speech in Miami, US President Donald Trump outlined his government’s Cuba policy directive, which abrogated former president Barack Obama’s 2016 Presidential Policy Directive on ‘Normalization of Relations between the United States and Cuba’.

Backpedalling from an election promise is quite different to unilaterally withdrawing from a signed global agreement, or retracting from a treaty with a foreign country; President Trump obviously is incognizant of this fact and probably also oblivious to its repercussions. The intended withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement that it signed as part of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its current renouncing of relations with Cuba, only helps to undermine respect for the United States and brings into question its reliability as a partner to the international community.

The new policy on Cuba titled ‘National Security Presidential Memorandum’ not only rolls back the progress achieved over the last two years in re-establishing diplomatic relations and strengthening bilateral ties between the US and Cuba, but also further isolates the US on the international stage and raises doubt about America’s continued leadership of the so-called free world.

The President’s new directive introduces greater control over US travelers to Cuba, and prohibits business, trade and financial transactions between US companies and certain Cuban companies linked to the Armed Revolutionary Forces and the intelligence and security services. It also eliminates private educational ‘people-to-people’ exchanges. The US president justified this policy with alleged concerns over the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously enforce the US blockade laws, conditioning its lifting, as well as any improvements in US-Cuba bilateral relations to Cuba making changes inherent to its constitutional order.

In response to the US President’s perfunctory new directive, the Government of Cuba issued a communiqué in which it condemned the new measures and said they were doomed to fail. The statement stressed, “As has been repeatedly evidenced in the past, the new measures will not succeed in their purpose to weaken the Revolution or bend the Cuban people, whose resistance against aggressions of all sorts and origins has been put to the test throughout almost six decades.”

The Government of Cuba also rejected the political manipulation and double standards in human rights. The communiqué pointed out that the Cuban people enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms and can proudly showcase achievements that are still a chimera for many countries of the world, including the United States.

The communiqué also added that the United States was in position to teach Cuba lessons on human rights. The statement noted that Cuba is a State Party to 44 international human rights instruments, while the US is only a State Party to 18.  “Therefore, we have much to show, say and defend: We have serious concerns about the respect for and guarantees of human rights in the United States, where there are numerous cases of murders, brutality and abuses by the police, particularly against the African-American population; the right to life is violated as a result of the deaths caused by fire arms; child labor is exploited and there are serious manifestations of racial discrimination.

“There is also a threat to impose more restrictions on medical services, which will leave 23 million persons without health insurance; there is unequal pay between men and women; migrants and refugees, particularly those who come from Islamic countries, are marginalized; there is an attempt to put up walls that discriminate against and denigrate neighbor countries; and international commitments to preserve the environment and address climate change are abandoned.

“Also a source of concern are the human rights violations by the United States in other countries, such as the arbitrary detention of tens of prisoners in the territory illegally occupied by the US Naval Base in Guantánamo, Cuba, where even torture has been applied;  extrajudicial executions and the death of civilians caused by drones; as well as the wars unleashed against countries like Iraq, under false pretenses like the possession of weapons of mass destruction, with disastrous consequences for the peace, security and stability in the Middle East,” read the communiqué from the Cuban government.

For his part, the Foreign Minister of Cuba, Bruno Rodriquez, strongly rejected the new US policy on Cuba saying that they were a step backward from the relation re-established two years ago. “Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, either through pressures and impositions or by using more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure,” said Cuba’s top diplomat.  He added that the changes that need to be made in Cuba will continue to be sovereignly determined only by the Cuban people.

“The prediction that the US policy will separate the people from the government, or the citizens from our glorious Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, which are the people in uniforms, seems childish. On the contrary, he added, it will only reinforce 'our patriotism, dignity and decision to defend our independence by all means,” said Mr. Rodriquez.

Reneging on the policies and promises made by his predecessor on Cuba, not only underscores President Trump’s immaturity in governance, but also reiterates the current administration’s weakness in relying on a small coterie of naïve advisors to draft government policies. It is obvious that most of the ludicrous ideas and divisive statements that emanate from the US President cater to the section of disgruntled white voters who managed to wiggle him into the increasingly ‘white’ House. Six-months into his presidency, the president still has not come to grips with the fact that he now represents the entire American people, and not just a section of it; that he is no longer just the CEO of Trump Inc. , but, for good or bad, he is the President of the United States.



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