US-Cuba ties deteriorate

US-Cuba ties deteriorate
The US State Department has confirmed that it is currently deciding on whether the country will shut down its embassy in Cuba. Relations between US and Cuba have been strained..

The US State Department has confirmed that it is currently deciding on whether the country will shut down its embassy in Cuba.

Background

Relations between US and Cuba have been strained for decades. In 1959, after the Cuban revolution, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially recognized the new Cuban government. However, this was followed by a steady deterioration of ties between the two countries. Concerned about Cuba’s policies that included nationalization of the industries (including ones owned by Americans) US began to impose trade restrictions on Cuba. As Cuba began to grow closer to USSR during the Cold War, US cut all ties with the nation and in 1961 shut down its embassy in Havana.

Post Cold War, the relations did not get better. US President George W Bush referred to Cuba as an outpost for “tyranny” and supported tightening the embargo on the nation. The ties, however, improved after the intervention of Pope Francis during the administration of President Barack Obama. This has been referred to as the “Cuban Thaw”. Obama eased some of the economic sanctions and travel restrictions for Americans visiting Cuba and vice versa. In 2015, Obama announced that beginning of formal diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. Embassies were opened in Havana and Washington respectively. President Obama and Raul Castro, who replaced his brother in 2008, took extraordinary steps to formalize bilateral relations.

Analysis

The current US President, Donald Trump has been critical of Cuba and of the policies that were enforced by his predecessor. In June 2017, he announced he would roll back on some of these policies. The current White House tightened rules affecting travel and on sending funds to Cuba. However, it was stated at the time that the embassy would not be closed. Trump defended his actions by stating that the deal that Obama had struck with Cuba was “completely one sided.”

On September 2017, reports have emerged that US is discussing plans on shut down its embassy in Havana entirely. This was because there was an alleged sonic attack on US personnel on Cuba. US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has said, “We have it under evaluation. It's a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered."

The US State Department has revealed that in August, some people connected to the US Embassy began showing symptoms of having suffered from "incidents" involving sound waves. Some of the most common symptoms include nausea, dizziness and temporary loss of hearing or memory.

Cuba has denied any role in such an attack.

Assessment

Our assessment is that under Trump’s administration, America’s Cuban policy has been set back by decades. We feel that the offer by Cubans to let the FBI enter Havana and investigate shows a rare level of openness. That suggested to some American officials that the Cuban government is equally baffled about the cause. We feel that the attack may be the work of a rogue government unit. 

Comments