But rocky relations between the US and Cuba aren’t necessarily new, and some people are foraging ahead despite mixed signals. Between new developments in Cuba’s economic zone and a US airline pulling flights from Cuba, the message from the markets is far from clear.
Earlier this year, Raul Castro announced that he would be stepping down as president to give way to elections including the selection of a new president by a national assembly, and the man who is expected to take his place, Miguel Diaz-Canel, seems to be preparing to take over the reins of the Cuban government.
Known to keep a low profile and not be very outspoken, Diaz-Canel seems to be stepping up and speaking out to become a national figure during the elections expected to end with his taking over from Raul Castro next year.
The visit marks a continuation of friendly relations between the two nations that have lasted since 1960, despite Havana’s staunch opposition to pursuing nuclear weapons. Some diplomats maintain that the relationship with Cuba might be of use in deescalating the current conflict, while others fear that talks are not so innocent.
Last Wednesday, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on American travel and trade with Cuba, finally implementing the changes promised months ago when President Trump said that he would reverse Obama-era policies that were meant to improve the relationship between the US and Cuba.
The announcement by the White House comes after diplomatic relations between the two nations have hit a low point in the wake of the United States’ decision to withdraw a majority of its diplomats from Cuba and expel Cuban diplomats from the US in turn.
Even with US-Cuba relations up in the air, business continues as usual. Despite the negative writing on the wall from a foreign policy standpoint, companies are continuing with their plans to do business with Cuba.
Cuba gave RIMCO, Caterpillar’s Puerto Rico-based dealer, permission to set up a Caterpillar warehouse and distribution center in Cuba’s Mariel Special Economic Development Zone, envisioned by the Cuban government as the island’s economic future. After a long process of campaigning and negotiations, Caterpillar Inc. is the first US company to locate in the Cuban economic zone.
The first time the term “Cuban exile” came into the modern lexicon was after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 led by Fidel Castro. Many exiles thought that the new government would not last and left behind their valuables, which ended up being confiscated by the Cuban government.
Since then, a steady stream of Cuban exiles has left the island nation; today, there are over 800,000 living abroad, with the majority of those who went to the United States living in Florida. Now, the Cuban government is extending an open hand to Cuban exiles, allowing some to return for the first time in their lives.
Despite the current foreign policy difficulties between the United States and Cuba, some people are foraging ahead with their business ties with the island. Although many announcements have been made about the reversal of Cuba-friendly Obama-era policies, not much has actually been changed on a policy level; the most significant recent move was the mutual removal of diplomats.
Susan Leger Ferraro is a social serial entrepreneur who has been looking to affect social change since first started Little Sprouts, an early education center in at-risk communities, when she was just 17 years old. In 2015, Ferraro first visited Cuba and has since set out to support the development and expansion of infrastructure in order to meet the needs of its growing tourism industry. Now, she’s sharing some of her wisdom from her experience in Cuba, and on a more ecumenical scale.
Fifty-five years after the United States and Russia went to the brink of war over the Cuban Missile Crisis, another critical event in the relationship between the United States and Cuba has been reached as President Trump openly blamed Cuba on Monday for the attacks on US diplomats over the past year.
The announcement by President Trump comes after a fruitless investigation into the attacks by multiple investigative agencies, including the FBI.
Cleveland, Ohio became the latest city to sign a port agreement with Cuba this week, making it the first agreement since the US State Department’s decision to remove American diplomats from Cuba and request the removal of Cuban diplomats from Washington.
The so-called “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed by the Darrell McNail, president of the Board of Administration of the port of Cleveland and Captain José Joaquín Prado, general director of Cuba’s Maritime Administration in Havana last Friday.
Amidst all of the confusion revolving around the mysterious health ailments experienced by US diplomats and relatives in Cuba over the past few months, the Trump administration has taken an even harder line on US-Cuba relations.
After an announcement last Friday that the US would significantly reduce its embassy staff in Havana, the State Department is expected to announce a new measure this week – the removal of 60 percent of Cuba’s diplomats from Washington, D.C. On Friday, the US announced that it would downsize its embassy staff in Havana indefinitely. The change will pare embassy personnel down from 50 to around 20, while also halting the processing of visas for prospective Cuban travelers to the US .