HAVANA – The Cuban government has remained silent after Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election victory, while on the island’s streets citizens are questioning to what extent it would be possible to reverse the process of diplomatic rapprochement begun two years ago by Barack Obama.
The island’s authorities have expressed their wish, regardless of who won the U.S. election, for the two countries to continue moving forward with their rapprochement, conscious of the fact that that will only occur if the new president is inclined to follow in Obama’s footsteps.
Therefore, given the fact that Trump has come out against the about-face in U.S.-Cuban relations initiated by his predecessor, a “significant” amount of uncertainty has now been introduced as to what the new U.S. leader will do, Cuban political analyst and former diplomat Carlos Alzugaray told EFE.
“In moving from Democrats and Republicans there’s a change of sign and confused elements,” said the analyst, noting that the magnate’s stance toward Cuba shifted during the campaign from calling for a “better agreement” with Havana but not opposing the rapprochement to threatening to reverse the entire process.
The former diplomat, in any case, said he does not see “much nervousness or concern” within the Raul Castro government, although he rules out that it will be able to achieve its main demands: lifting the U.S. embargo, which would be up to the Republican-majority Congress to do, and obtaining the return of the territory where the Guantanamo naval base is located.
Nevertheless, in recent weeks the two countries have accelerated the work to move forward on the agreements achieved to date and finalize new ones before Obama must leave office next January.
“Trump adapts his discourse to the circumstances ... If he governs as a businessman and protects U.S. economic interests, it’s possible that he could continue with the idea of making the embargo more flexible or, at least, not going backward on what was achieved under Obama,” he said.
He also said that Washington is interested in maintaining a proper relationship with Havana on issues on which bilateral progress has been made, including the fight against terrorism, cybersecurity, the environment and air transport.
U.S. policy toward the island, however, “will greatly depend” on the team of advisers and officials Trump selects, he said.
There has been no activity in recent hours in the social network accounts of Cuban diplomatic officials or in the account of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s U.S. affairs chief, Josefina Vidal, who has been the communist island’s most visible face in the normalization process with Washington.
Things look normal on the streets of Havana on Wednesday, but several people interviewed by EFE said that they were disappointed by Clinton’s defeat, having seen her as a potential president who would surely continue down the road toward reconciliation.
“We’ll have to see what (Trump) does. I think that, above all, a president must be humane ... Reversing the measures would be pretty bad. Why bring division if that doesn’t lead to anything?” said computer engineer Pedro Roberto.