July 27, 2021

As the Castro page turns, Joe Biden forgets Cuba

Analysis. The alignment of the stars was almost perfect. Sixty years after the Cuban revolution, Havana turned the page on the Castro brothers, Raul, Fidel’s eternal youngest, giving way, on April 19, 2021, to Miguel Diaz-Canel, the first civilian to lead the Communist Party of the ‘Isle. The transition was not only accompanied by the retirement from political office of part of the historic generation, that of the 1959 revolution, but it also followed a major reform package.

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In the midst of an economic crisis – the worst since the fall of the USSR -, pandemic and unprecedented political tensions, the government carried out, in January, a delicate monetary reform, putting an end to the single system of the two currencies in force. for thirty years. In February, private activity was allowed in most economic sectors. What to foresee a transition, at least on paper, towards a market economy, dear to the North American neighbor.

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With the election of Joe Biden, the hope of a return to a normalization of relations between Washington and Havana, initiated by Barack Obama in 2014 before being shattered under the effect of the sanctions and the flight restrictions imposed by the Trump administration, has in turn been revived. Didn’t the Democratic candidate promise during the campaign that he would remove, once elected, some of the real estate mogul’s most aggressive measures? That his goal too was to quickly change what he called “Trump’s failed policy that harmed the Cuban people” and allow Americans to come to the island because they are “The best ambassadors of freedom” ?

Apparent indifference

Since then, nothing. After the inauguration of Joe Biden, the White House has not budged an iota. The appeal, launched by Raul Castro during his last major speech at the head of the single party, for a “Respectful dialogue” between Havana and Washington did not have the good fortune to move the former vice-president of Obama. The new administration politely explained that relations with Cuba were not a priority. The State Department’s policy towards the island is under review. A senior official even said the United States had nothing substantive to say about Castro’s retirement.

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This posture of apparent indifference leaves a feeling of bitterness to those who hoped, at the very least, for the reopening of airlines and a relaxation of remittances, these fund transfers made by the Cuban diaspora, blocked in 2020 by Donald Trump. It reveals the obvious choice of prudence in foreign policy. Taken over by the great confrontation with China, Joe Biden wishes to look away from certain international issues. At the risk, as we saw in May in the Middle East, of sending back the image of a White House successively late, embarrassed and even in contradiction with its own commitments.

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