Our friend Humberto told us about Raul Castro’s recent speech reported by TeleSur. Let me add a few thoughts to Humberto’s post.
Castro unleashed attacks on President Trump, from opposing the US-Mexico border wall, to saying that the new administration plans to violate environmental agreements to benefit large corporations. He closed by expressing his support for leftist regimes in the region and remembering Hugo Chavez on the fourth anniversary of his death.
As mentioned above, he expressed solidarity with Mexico but did not comment on the 91 Cubans recently sent back to the island.
So “que pasa” as Cubans would say? What’s going on? Why is Raul Castro unleashing this attack?
First, Cuba’s economy is hurting badly as was reported at the end of 2016:
Cuba publishes few credible economic statistics, but experts expect the country to end this year with gross domestic product growth of 1 percent or less.
It maintained a rate close to 3 percent from 2011-2015.
One bright spot is tourism, booming since Obama and Castro’s Dec. 17, 2014, detente announcement set off a surge in overall visitor numbers, up more than 15 percent in 2015 and again this year.
“I’ve never seen as many tourists as I have this year,” said Magalys Pupo, a street-corner pastry vendor in Old Havana. “They’re everywhere and they’re the income that we need in this country.”
The slowness of macroeconomic growth despite a surge of interest in foreign investment and the greatest tourism boom in decades attests to both long-term mismanagement of the Cuban economy and the depth of the crisis in other sectors, particularly aid from Venezuelan in the form of deeply subsidized oil.
Analysts believe that as Venezuela’s Cuba-inspired socialist economy has disintegrated, exports to Cuba has dropped from 115,000 barrels daily in 2008 to 90,000 in recent years to 40,000 a day over the last few months.
Second, it does appear that the Trump administration is going to take a second look at the U.S.-Cuba deal.
President Trump has reasons to review the situation:
a) The Cuban vote in Florida got him the 27 electoral votes; and,
b) What exactly has the U.S. gotten out of this deal? Not much.
So I think that Raul Castro is starting to get the message that US elections have consequences. In 2012, Obama’s reelection allowed talks to go on. In 2016, the consequences are different.
And frankly there are lots of us Cuban Americans in the U.S. who are happy that a change in coming.