Over the last two years, the relations between Cuba and the US have improved significantly. Obama’s administration carried out a great negotiation process through the last presidential mandate. The major points of Obama’s foreign policy towards Cuba have been the restore of diplomatic ties, the efforts to lift the embargo and the fight to close the Guantanamo prison. However, this period of reconciliation between the two countries is now threatened by the uncertain position that will assume the next President of the US, Donald Trump.
Cuba and the US severed diplomatic ties in 1961, after the revolutionaries headed by Fidel Castro took the power in 1959. The main reason of this choice was the fact that the new Cuban government nationalized all the US Companies and properties on the island. As a consequence, since 1960 the US government imposed progressive economic sanctions on Cuba.
In 2014, after a period of bilateral talks, Obama and Raúl Castro announced that the two countries would restore diplomatic relations. In that occasion they reached an agreement on a prisoner swap. The peace talks were encouraged by Pope Francis.
In April 2015, President Obama and Raúl Castro met at the Summit of the Americas in Panama. It was the first time the leaders of the two countries met since 1961. Finally, in July 2015 Cuba and the US succeeded in restoring diplomatic ties, and embassies were opened in both countries. The reconciliation was accomplished when Obama visited Cuba in March 2016.
Nevertheless, there are some unsolved problems between the two countries. The first and the most difficult to solve is the embargo. The embargo has been partially lifted by Obama’s administration, by restoring commercial flights between the two countries, removing travel bans as well as restrictions on remittances and bank services. However, Obama couldn’t lift the embargo in a definitive way because of the opposition of the US Congress, which has to express its approval on the measure. Another unsolved problem of the negotiations with Cuba is the Guantanamo prison. The prison was opened in 2002 on a piece of territory of the Cuban island, which was taken by the US as a compensation in 1903 since they sustained Cuba in its independence war against Spanish colons. Cuba claims that territory since the revolution succeeded. Obama promised to close the prison in Guantanamo, because the public opinion and many organizations protested for the violations of human rights that were committed in it. In that prison, people suspected of terrorism were detained after the terrorist attacks of 2001, without having access to a fair trial. Even though Obama transferred most of the prisoners to other places, assuring the respect of their rights, he couldn’t close the prison so far.
The recent election of President Donald Trump on the 8th of November is probably going to affect the relations between the two countries. However, the way in which the situation will change is not clear enough. In fact, Trump didn’t express a clear position on Cuba. He just said few things about the relations with the Caribbean country. He criticized the agreement reached by Obama, saying that he would probably renegotiate a more advantageous deal. But at the same time he was accused, during the presidential campaign, of violating the embargo some years ago by sending executives of his Company to Cuba in order to find out if it was possible to do business on the island.