It is said that when politicians are being attacked at home on a number of issues, including the economy, lack of jobs, crime etc., they often turn their rancor to other countries to bolster their fortunes at home. A classic case exists with our northern neighbour, Venezuela. Two years ago, President Maduro had threatened to seize two-thirds of Guyana’s territory due to the fact that he was harshly criticized for the economic and political chaos in Venezuela.
This is also true of United States President Donald Trump who is reeling from what has thus far been a failed legislative agenda.Faced with multiple probes from the Congress, the FBI and a Special Counsel into his campaign ties to Russia, his sudden dismissal of FBI director James Comey and allegations that he has attempted to obstruct justice, Trump has turned his venom on America’s arch enemy, Cuba.
In what seems like a personal agenda, hatred, or an act of disdain for the Castro regime, President Trump visited Miami last week and told Cuban Americans opposed to the Castro regime that he has cancelled the deal brokered between Cuba and the Obama administration. He claimed that Cuba continues to violate the human rights of its citizens and blamed the Obama administration for looking the other way.
In his longwinded statement, Trump listed some of the Castro regime’s anti-United States actions, which dated back to more than six decades. They ranged from the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Mariel Boat lift, to Joanne Chesimard who fled to Cuba after her conviction for murdering a State Trooper in New Jersey.
However, all this is being said by a President, Trump, who has praised authoritarian leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and the oppressive Saudi Royal family. Not to mention his racist and Islamophobia executive orders banning Muslims from entering the United States; his malicious attack on the Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and his undermining of the independent judiciary. It seems that Trump is making a mockery of human right violations which are occurring in many countries.
Many believe that President Trump’s gripe against Cuba is personal and vindictive, and they could have serious implications for the Caribbean and undermine America’s standing in the region. It is nothing more than his spiteful efforts to reverse all of Obama’s policies which could lead to mistrust and thus undermine his ability to make deals with leaders in the region.
As with his ill-advised Mexican border wall, Mr. Trump’s policies are divisive and isolationist. And while he is concerned with human rights violations in Cuba, he continues to ignore reports of deliberate efforts by Russian operatives to attack one of America’s most important institutions: its democratic process. He should be reminded that isolationist policies have not worked in the past. It was a major foreign policy blunder, yet it is being practiced by the Trump administration.
The leaders of the 15-member CARICOM states should not be tempted to make individual public statements in response to President Trump’s provocative and hostile anti-Cuba rhetoric in Miami. What they should do instead is to wait for their annual summit meeting scheduled for July to craft an in-depth forward-thinking collective response to President Trump’s tirade against Cuba. They must let Mr. Trump understand that Cuba stood up to the US’s Cold War policies on Cuba which are outdated. Although they had some negative impact on Cuba, they did not cause the collapse of the Castro regime.
Mr. Trump should know that Cuba has survived decades of US economic sanctions and its revolution has heroically endured a succession of bellicose US leaders, and will survive the Trump administration.
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