Donald Trump’s shameful legacy against Cuba
More than 200 measures reinforced the financial, commercial and economic blockade that accumulates six decades of a despicable and inhumane policy
Juana Carrasco Martín |Juana@juventudrebelde.cu
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Moving trucks leave the White House loaded with large boxes containing the occupying family’s belongings until January 19, evicted by the decision of U.S. voters and the Electoral College, no matter what the outgoing tenant Donald Trump did and did not do to stay in place.
No tricks, unsuccessful lawsuits about alleged fraud and even the seizure of Congress by its white supremacist fanatics, some armed, and willing to do anything, as the gallows erected in front of the Capitol pointed out. A Pew Research Center poll says that about 70 percent of Americans now disapprove of how he has done his job.
Trump takes his stuff, but leaves behind a legacy of worse stuff than anyone would want. I will not speak of the mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic; nor of the internal chaos in a nation more divided than ever before; nor of the discredit of his unilateral and unconsultative policies on the international stage.
I will limit myself to the adverse legacy of injustices, aggressions, revanchist measures, outrageous decisions on the human rights of a people, contained in their policy against Cuba.
The President who is now taking office, Joe Biden, is also carrying this burden, destined during the four-year term of office to please an anti-Cuban clique, which as of January 20 will be his neighbors in Miami, in exchange for their votes and whose aim is to destroy a nation, a people, a social, political and economic system that they viscerally hate.
Over the past few weeks, Mike Pompeo and other retreating officials have exaggerated anti-Cuban actions to multiply the damage and put obstacles in the way of any reversal. In a low and final blow he registered Cuba on the exclusive, sinister and politically motivated list of “countries sponsoring terrorism,” a deliberate lie that has earned the revulsion of various personalities and organizations worldwide.
The final straw came last Friday when the Treasury Department included the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and its head, Brigadier General Lázaro Alberto Álvarez Casas, on a list of those sanctioned for “persecuting or punishing dissidents”, meaning the salaried and discredited acolytes of San Isidro.
“The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to address the terrible human rights situation in Cuba and elsewhere,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
Both measures against the clock add up to more than 230 approved against Cuba in four years of (dis)government, trying to dent and sink 62 years of resistance that serves as an example to the world and, what hurts them most, to a united nation moving against the tide.
A review, without going deeply into all the nooks and crannies of the operations from Washington to affect the economy of Cuba, allows us to define that the intensification of the blockade and the advertising of lies were centered on ruining the tourist industry, stopping Cuban medical collaboration and cooperation, closing family remittances, paralyzing investments by third parties, financing and trade of the world with and from the island.
The enforcement of all the evil instruments of the Helms-Burton Act was the tool used during these terrible 1461 days by Trump and his people, in which they reversed, or more appropriately, curtailed the policy of rapprochement inaugurated by Barack Obama when, on December 17, 2014, together with Army General Raul Castro, they announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, and in two years there were certain achievements of mutual benefit, in favor of a better neighborhood.
The undesirable legacy
Trump’s unseemly anti-Cuban dossier includes organizing, orienting and financing small groups to defame the Revolution and try to turn them into “the leaders” of a subversion that produces a change in the political model on the island. We have already seen how they have defended them…
But the story began early, not with this sin of an idiotic slander, but with aggressive prohibitions and sanctions, including collusion with other governments in the region to attack the Cuban economy and make it as worn out as possible, which in the last year joined the damage caused by the Covid-19.
He did everything possible to bring the situation up to his promise as a presidential candidate made in Miami to hard-line Cuban Americans, and to directors of the terrorist Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), in September 2016: to break relations with Cuba.
On June 16, 2017, in Miami, he signed the so-called Presidential National Security Memorandum on Strengthening U.S. Policy Toward Cuba. It restricted the travel of US citizens to the Caribbean country and also prohibited economic, commercial and financial transactions between US companies and Cuban companies linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the intelligence and security services.
The ban on cruise ships that successfully traveled to Cuban ports was among the first restrictive measures. They reaffirmed the exorbitant fines on companies that violated the blockade – a practice reinforced by Obama – and strictly enforced the ban on the use of the dollar in Cuba’s international transactions.
By November 2017, Trump had completely changed the policy on U.S. travel to the Caribbean nation, which, with the easing of the previous administration’s blockade rules, allowed 12 categories of specific activities, although tourism remained prohibited.
As a result, the airlines began to shut down travel to Cuban airports, which had been resumed on August 31, 2016, after 55 years of isolation. Other bans followed. On December 10, 2019, the Trump administration ended the bridge established three years ago between the US and several provinces in Cuba by suspending regular flights to those destinations except for Havana.
In addition to being a coup de grace against family ties and the state tourism industry, the impact on small private businesses (transportation, the well-known palates, rental houses, artisans, and many other businesses) directly or indirectly linked to tourism was notable.
Since assuming the presidency of his country, Trump extended, year after year, the Law of Trade with the Enemy, a regulation that serves as the basis for the blockade laws, and maintained his authority to sanction through executive decrees.
By establishing sanctions against the Venezuelan oil sector, Trump was also establishing a measure to deprive Cuba of fuel with the intention of delivering a coup de grace in the midst of the terrible 2020, which together with the decision to re-impose the limit of up to ten percent on U.S. components for products that the island can import, points against any development sector.
The Trumpist push to impose limitations of all kinds was made despite the fact that U.S. legislators and various economic sectors rejected the restrictions, which hardened the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington against Cuba, which also hurt sectors of the U.S. economy and the rejection of the blockade by a part of the Cuban migration wishing to have no obstacles of any kind to their family relations.
Perhaps one of the most monstrous actions linked Trump to equally aberrant rulers in our hemisphere. The accusations against Cuban medical cooperation justified countries like Brazil, Bolivia under the coup d’état and Ecuador, closing the doors to solidarity and also to the right to health of the most humble of their peoples by putting an end to the agreements that made possible the presence of hundreds or thousands of Cuban doctors, and put pressure on others to follow that inhumane path in the midst of the pandemic.
Trump definitely closed down spaces for dialogue and cooperation, and any possibility of advancing, as intended, toward a “civilized coexistence”.
This is, in short, the abusive legacy that Donald Trump leaves to Joe Biden.