Cuban diplomatic negotiators warn Trump that aggression won't work with Cuba

Posted: 20-Jan-17 10:05

Gearing up to the moment Donald Trump takes over the White House in the coming few days, one top Cuban diplomat who led the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the U.S. has warned that belligerence and intimidation are tactics with a proven failed record in Cuba. Talking to The Guardian last Tuesday, Josefina Vidal said that when it comes to Cuba "aggression doesn't work".

Cuban diplomatic negotiators warn Trump that aggression won't work with Cuba

Aggression is not a valid or fruitful strategy when it comes to Cuba, a Cuban U.S. negotiator recently pointed out during an interview with The Guardian.

Josefina Vidal, General Director of U.S. Affairs at Cuba´s Ministry of Foreign Relations (MINREX) recently talked to The Guardian about Cuba´s cautious “wait-and-see” approach towards Trump´s menacing hostility that could spell the end of the Obama-backed rapprochement with Cuba.

Yet, she was quick to warn that any form of aggression or intimidating threat coming from the White House or Donald Trump would not yield any form of result and would be more damaging for both countries while directly against the interests of many U.S. businesses that have now started operating in Cuba, not least of all the six American airlines now flying regular commercial routes to the island. It´s hard to think businessman Trump would undo all of this progress.

Affirming that Cuba would not be intimidated by any form of punitive policy or harsh stance adopted by Donald Trump, Vidal declared:

“Aggression, pressure, conditions, impositions do not work with Cuba. This is not the way to attempt to have even a minimally civilised relationship with Cuba,”

After leading Cuba´s negotiation team since 2013 (including a year-and-a-half of secret talks), Josefina Vidal has said that the island´s cautious approach is due to Trump´s unpredictability – while one hand he has threatened to end the process of thawing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, his business side and the amounting pressure from several U.S. companies with interests in Cuba, could steer him towards leaving things be as they are or at least turn a blind eye on some of the progress achieved between Cuba and the U.S.

So, despite Trump´s menacing statement that he was prepared to reverse all of Obama´s advancements toward normalisation with Cuba, “unless the Castro regime meets our demands”, this could all have been a lot of big talk to keep their hard-line Cuban-American voters happy. It´s not the first Trump goes back on his word after all.

Cuban officials are banking on this (Trump´s ability to repeatedly change his mind) and waiting for action rather than words to see where the country is headed next and what step the island would take in the face of a calamitous “Trumpversity”.

Vidal was keen to stress it was too early to predict what path the new Trump administration would take but she pointed out that there are people in the new President´s team eager to continue engaging with Cuba:

“There are also other functionaries, businessmen, that Trump has named, including in government roles, who are in favour of business with Cuba, people who think that the US will benefit from cooperation with Cuba, on issues linked to the national security of the US,”

Cuban director of political and social debate journal, "Temas", Rafael Hernandez, believes Trump´s business instincts will prevail in the end and calls the President-elect threats “bluff”, something that Cubans are quite used to when it comes to the U.S.

After President Obama´s history-making visit to Cuba (the first time in nearly a century a U.S. president had touched down in Cuban soil in March 2015, 23 visits from high-level officials have followed, achieving 12 agreements signed in various areas, ranging from the environment to air travel, health and the fight on drug trafficking.

The warming of relations has also resulted in more Americans than ever visiting the island, with close to 285,000 U.S. visitors arriving to Cuba in 2016, marking a steep growth of 74 per cent compared to the previous year´s figures.

In a rather symbolical step with unbelievable timing, on the eve of Trump´s taking office, the first fully legal Cuban export to the U.S. in over five decades will take place, as the country receives 40 tons of Cuban charcoal produced in cooperative farms.

Yet, Cuba isn´t taking anything for granted, after all Raul Castro himself said there was a need for civilised co-existence with the U.S. but never at the cost of national independence and sovereignty. We´ll only have a few more days and weeks to find out how it will all unfold.


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