Donald Trump’s victory has sent
shock waves through the United States — and also to our nearest “frenemy” 90 miles away.
The president-elect clearly said during his campaign that he would reverse the thaw in relations between Washington and Havana unless Raúl Castro’s government granted more political freedoms to the population.
On this subject, the Cuban regime continues to be deficient: Granting the freedoms to which Mr. Trump referred is tantamount to going against the very essence of the system.
The Editorial Board, though supportive of normalization, has been disappointed with the pace of change in Cuba. In truth, the regime has conceded very little.
In the final days of his campaign, Mr. Trump was endorsed by the veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion — a group of CIA-trained Cuban exiles who unsuccessfully tried to topple the Fidel Castro regime in 1961.
Rightly, the island government fears that when Mr. Trump moves into the White House, he will put President Obama’s thaw back on ice. After all, Cuba has seen an increase in the flow of capital it needs to keep its failing economy afloat.
And on the streets, Cubans who dream of coming to the United States see their goal at risk. They fear that Mr. Trump, who has often spoken of reducing the influx of immigrants to the nation, will eliminate migratory privileges, such as visas programs, that allow Cubans to resettle in the United States.
It is possible that before Jan. 20, when the real-estate magnate takes office, there will be increased attempts to cross the Florida Straits, or there will be a jump in the number of Cubans making their way to the United States through other countries.
No doubt, such a renewed exodus will have an impact on South Florida.
The restlessness on the island coincides with an announcement last week of military exercises in Cuba. Cuban authorities say the exercises will be held from Nov. 16 thru 18.
The objective is to “raise the country’s willingness to defend and prepare the troops and the population to deal with the enemy’s different actions,” according to a statement in the official newspaper Granma.
But who is the enemy the Cuban government refers to in the announcement? Is it the United States, the so-called “Yankee imperialist,” the term the Castro regime used for the United States before President Obama set each nation on a road to cordiality? Keeping the population fearful and alert for a possible foreign invasion from the United States has long been a Castro tactic.
Just like previous Republican and Democratic administrations in the last half a century, Mr. Trump likely has no interest in launching a military operation against the old enemy. So ordering military exercises to confront the hypothetical “enemy actions,” is a sign of the paranoia that has characterized the Cuban regime.
It is possible that the real intention of the Castro government with these exercises is, as on previous occasions, to distract the people from the real threats facing the Cuban people, those from within: lack of freedoms, economic crisis, despair at the system failure.
The war maneuvers will be nothing more than a useless display of a military power that has dissipated since the Soviet Union pulled out of the island. Neither Mr. Trump nor anyone in the U.S. government entertains the crazy idea of invading Cuba.
The real enemy of the Cubans is not in Washington, but on the island itself.
—The Miami Herald, Nov. 14, 2016