In what could be called one of the strangest decisions by the Trump administration since President Trump took office in January, Trump recently announced that that steps taken by the Obama administration in an attempt to normalize the relationship between Cuba and the United States would be reversed. In response to the announcement, the Cuban government, which is made up of the Castro regime, claimed that the United States has no position to lecture the Cubans.
In a statement released by the Cuban government, the speech that Trump made in Miami regarding the new policy was filled with rhetoric of the hostile and vitriolic variety, which is fairly typical of a Trump speech. The statement also said that if Trump actually goes through with the promises made in his speech, that it would revert and undo the majority of the progress made between the United States and Cuba over the previous years.
The new policy will come in the form of an executive order, as most of Trump’s major political actions have, and it will prevent free travel between Cuba and the United States while also prohibiting Cuban businesses from interacting with the United States if those businesses are owned by Cuban intelligence services or the military. A special task force will be appointed to work on expanding access to the internet in the island nation, which is something the Castro regime does not want.
Despite having no direct power to do so, the Trump administration is also working against efforts taken by the United Nations to remove the embargo placed on Cuba, which they claim will force the nation to acknowledge their poor record of human rights violations. Trump did not hold back any punches during his speech, and he criticized Cuba for their failure to be a fair and just society. He lambasted their support of North Korea and their part in the Venezuelan crisis, and he accused them of supporting forced labor and human trafficking.
When the Cuban government responded to the speech and the subsequent executive order, they claimed that the rhetoric of the president highlights a glaring double standard on how nations are judged for their actions. The statement spoke of police brutality, rampant murder, and basic violations of rights that occur in the United States. The response detailed every negative decision by the Trump administration as well, including the new Republican health care bill and the administration’s already obvious predilection for war.
If Trump is able to put this plan into action, it will signify a massive step backward for the relations between Cuba and the United States. The Cuban government claimed that these sorts of coercive steps have been taken before, but that didn’t break their resolve. The response from the Cuban government also called Trump ill-advised and shortsighted for his remarks. The statement claimed that Trump is merely acting in the interest of a ‘Cuban extremist minority’ in Florida, and that the island nation has every right to exist as a sovereign and free state.
While Trump did make it clear that Cuba and the United States could do business, he emphasized that such business would not be possible until the Cuban government releases their political prisoners and legitimate elections are held in the nation. The reasoning behind Trump’s logic in this move is that his administration has a zero-tolerance policy against human rights violations, which sounds good on paper, but it astoundingly hypocritical. Trump made a promise that he and his administration would expose the human rights violations made by the Cuban government, and that those who were tortured or imprisoned by the dictator state would find justice.