Analysis. Raul Castro reiterates the desire to maintain good relations with the United States in the Trump era.

For Cuba and some in US, ‘the dialogue remains open’

Cuba’s party newspaper Granma printed this headline on the front page on Thursday: “An anti-Cuban provocation fails.”

According to the Foreign Ministry communiqué, in order to thwart this provocation, the Cuban government has denied entry to the island to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, as well as former Mexican President Felipe Calderón and former Chilean Minister Mariana Aylwin. They had been invited to Havana by “an illegal anti-Cuban small group” led by Rosa María Payá, Oswaldo’s daughter. He was a prominent dissident who died in 2012 after a car accident (which, according to the family, was “provoked” by the Cuban secret services).

Such a hard measure against the OAS Secretary has obviously sparked negative comments from a lot of international press, not only in Latin America. But the measure was explained by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claiming it was needed to prevent the organization in “Havana of an open and serious provocation against the Cuban government” to “create internal instability” and “compromise the progressive advancement of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.”

The level of confrontation, which now also involves leading figures in Latin America, not just Cuban opponents and the Florida anti-Castro leadership, shows that the issue of relations between Cuba and the Trump administration is important for the government led by Raul Castro.

In fact, the president has reiterated his desire to maintain good relations with Washington. On the same days the “provocation” was supposed to take place, he received a delegation of US Congress members of both parties led by Democrat Patrick Leahy. He handed them a signed copy of the speech before the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (acronym in Spanish CELAC), in which he expressed his willingness to negotiate with President Trump.

For his part, Leahy, who has been engaged for years in a policy of rapprochement between the US and Cuba, said that the continuation of relations with the island “is inevitable,” given the popularity they generate in the majority of the US population: “It is impossible to put the genie back in the lamp,” he concluded.

Precisely for this reason Leahy praised the decision of President Raúl Castro to avoid controversy against the bellicose statements issued by Trump collaborators and to maintain an open-door policy to the negotiations.

For months, several Cuban ministers repeated that foreign investment is the government’s priority. All the more so after a year, 2016, when the economy has plunged into a stagnation. To boost the development of the leading sectors, energy, tourism and infrastructure, it is necessary to reach at least an amount of $2.5 billion investment annually.

A target still far away. And it would be almost impossible to reach if the US President Trump decides to take a step backwards on the opening started by its predecessor.

For now, the tycoon new president continues the pressing against the “hard” deployment of the Cuban-American anti-Castro movement in Florida. Primarily against Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Diaz-Balart. The latter, in recent days, even announced an upcoming “crisis between the US and Cuba.”

According to the Cuban historian Lopez Oliva, the uncertainty about the next moves of President-mogul has caused a kind of “ideological inaction” among the Cuban leadership. This has an impact both at the national level — a crackdown against dissent and interventionist measures to contain prices — and the Latin American level. Where the only political response to Trump’s “protectionism” and xenophobic positions comes from the camp of his allies, spearheaded by the Argentinian President Mauricio Macri.

In recent weeks, the head of the Casa Rosada met first with the illegitimate Brazilian President Temer (appointed after the coup), then with the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. Macri’s goal was to promote an alliance of Mercosur (from which Venezuela has been “suspended” by decision of the Argentinian-Brazilian right duo) and the Alliance for the Pacific (Mexico-Chile-Peru-Colombia) to discuss the formation of a liberal bloc.

The message was repeated in Madrid, where Argentinian President Macri met with the eternal ally of the Latin American right, Prime Minister Rajoy, to facilitate a series of agreements between Mercosur and the European Union.

According to Macri, in order to meet the “winds of protectionism” that blow from Washington, the economic integration in Latin America under the neoliberal banner must go ahead. “This world disorder creates a great opportunity for the countries that are determined to move forward,” said the Argentinian president.

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