Russian politologist: Trump will surely squeeze Cuba

President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse the political thaw initiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama, could ultimately lead to the imposition of new economic sanctions against Cuba, a renowned Russian politologist told the news agency RIA-Novosti on Saturday (June 17).

“Cuba, in my opinion, does not represent a great value for Trump, because he has somewhat dfferent approaches to the United States’ vision of the Western Hemisphere” than those of the Obama administration, said Andrei Sidorov (photo at top), head of the department of World Political Processes at Lomonosov State University.

According to Sidorov, diplomatic relations between the two countries are not likely to be broken, “but it is easy to introduce any sanctions” and “the probable result of all this can be new economic sanctions against the island.”

For a long time, Cuba was a stumbling block in the relationship between the United States and the other countries of Latin America, the expert said. When the project of creating a Pan-American Free Trade Zone was put forward by President George H. W. Bush and regular summits were held until 2005 to discuss the issue, one of the main obstacles was Cuba, because the leftist governments in the region — Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua — insisted that Cuba be brought into the negotiations.

Cuba was barred from the Organization of American States in 1962.

“In my opinion, Obama was preparing a new round of cooperation with the Latin American countries,” Sidorov told RIA-Novosti. “Two partnerships — the Trans-Pacific and the Trans-Atlantic pacts — were to be supplemented by a third one in the southernly direction, something traditional for the U.S.”

By resuming relations with Cuba, Obama sought to remove the problem of Cuba from the relationship between the U.S. and its southern neighbors, he added.

“For Trump, as everyone knows, neither partnerships nor other similar options related to the creation of free-trade zones are important. He even wants to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement [with Mexico and Canada],” Sidorov said.

“Now he has an excuse” to renegotiate relations with Cuba,” the expert said. “Allegedly, Cuba sells weapons and technology to North Korea and, using that excuse, [Trump] decided to reconsider the relationship with Cuba and launch a negotiation process that would determine the relationship between the two countries.”

[Cuba’s official reaction to Trump’s rollback, in Spanish, can be accessed here. For a video reading of the Cuban government’s statement, in Spanish, click here.]

The Cubans have already expressed their readiness for negotiating with the U.S., but they will make no major concessions. This time, Trump would demand that Cuba refrain from supporting any regimes that Washington doesn’t like, Sidorov told the Russian news agency.

“The support that flows from Cuba to leftist governments — both moral and to some extent material — disturbs Americans,” he said.