It was hard not to notice the night of November 8 and the “morning after the night before.” Around the world people went to bed or woke up the next morning shocked and speechless. The most unlikely candidate, Donald Trump, had won the U.S. election for the U.S. Presidency.
There is, to be sure, uncertainty about what a Trump presidency will mean for diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. The negative global reaction to the Trump win was as expected – based on the type of campaign he ran. His was a campaign based on fear, racism, hatred, and surrounded by allegations of sexual harassment and scandal. Who can blame anyone for their reactions after the lengthy constant inundations of the run up to the elections?
His position on Cuba has dilly-dallied and wavered in the wind over the years. Back in the 1990s though, judging by his actions, he appeared very enthusiastic about doing business in Cuba. According to Newsweek in the 1990s, one of Trump’s companies:
“… secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings. Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp.”
However the campaign was later to contradict his actions in the 1990s. He was quoted by CNN as saying he would reverse the deal President Obama had struck to reopen diplomatic relations and re-establish some trade – unless the Cuban regime would meet his demands. He said, “the US should have struck a better deal with Cuba.” At one time though, Trump had supported the reopening of relations after more than 50 years.
Although American markets rallied the day after the night before, the rest of the world reacted with shock and horror. Even in the United States, the shock and horror at the Trump win prompted protests in New York, Oregon and other U.S. Cities.
NBC reported the world’s reaction to the Trump win as one of, “Disbelief, horror and downright mockery. If the reaction of world newspapers is a barometer of public opinion then America’s president elect has bridges to build.”
Canadians, America’s neighbors to the north reacted with horror to the Trump victory. The Canadian immigration website crashed due to an overload of traffic from disgusted Americans who wished to immigrate north. Canadian women posted ads offering for marriage for citizenship with bids starting at $50,000.
World leaders, as diplomatically as they possibly could and as required by their employment, congratulated the president elect. But the world press went wild with shock and horror.
Cuba’s President Raul Castro, like other leaders, published a note of congratulations to the new president. At the same time, not surprisingly, the Cubans announced Bastion Strategic Exercises to take place in the near future.
The European reaction has also been overwhelmingly negative to the Trump victory.
Germany‘s Angela Merkel did not to mince words and said she would only offer “close cooperation” dependent on his commitment to equal rights. She also stated that her relationship with him would only succeed if he upheld “the dignity of man, independent of origin.” She reiterated that the German and American relationship is bound by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law.
French President François Hollande’s reaction was also far from enthusiastic. Hollande said, “The people of America have spoken. I have congratulated Mr. Trump, as it is usual in this situation. I thought of Clinton, with whom I worked during the Obama administration. This result leads to uncertainty… ”
Likewise across the English Channel in the United Kingdom, the reaction to the election win was one of mockery. Brits were relieved to find out they would not be “known as the greatest f*** up of the 21st century” with their recent Brexit vote to leave the European Union.
China, Cuba’s biggest trade partner congratulated the winner in spite of Trump’s criticism of their nation during the campaign. Chinese President Xi Jinping personally called to congratulate him and later told Chinese Central Television that the two countries “shoulder a special responsibility” as the world’s largest developed and developing nations.”
Xi also said that, “China pays high attention to the Sino-US relationship and hopes to develop a sound, long-term and stable relationship with the US.” Xi also said that he hoped to “settle all disputes with the US in accordance with the principle of nonconfrontation.”
From Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed the Japanese-US friendship by saying, “The stability of the Asia-Pacific region, which is a driving force of the global economy, brings peace and prosperity to the United States. Japan and the United States are unwavering allies tied firmly with the bond of universal values such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law.”
Mexico, also on Trump’s list of insulted nations, plans to work with the new president, “for the benefit of both nations after his surprise U.S. election win,” but they emphasized they would not be paying for his planned border wall, something which has stirred up a great deal of resentment. (Reuters)
The former Mexican President Vicente Fox was “shocked by the news,” and also stated Mexico would not be paying to build the wall Trump is planning to construct.
Many American business people who were working to build relations, business and investments in the context of warmer relations with Cuba were generally horrified by the Trump win.
An American business consultant who wished to remain anonymous said, “Perspective is everything. The people who voted for Trump know nothing about international trade.”
However another American businessman was more positive and said, “the Trump win is a good thing for the U.S., Americans voted for change.”
It is unclear at this time what Trump’s approach will be in regards to Cuba. Will he return the relationship to a pre-December 2014 cold storage; freeze progress where it stands today; or demand hard concessions from Cuba in exchange for any further warming in its relations with its neighbor to the north?”
If Trump reverses the advances already made, it will be a monstrous, difficult and expensive task to step back in time. American cruise ship companies sail into Cuban harbors, U.S. telecom companies offer roaming packages, commercial airlines fly into Cuba, American hotel companies now manage Cuban hotels, and Airbnb is advertising Cuban casa particulars on their website. Try telling American cancer patients they will no longer have the possibility of obtaining some of Cuba’s advanced vaccines for their cancers. Try telling Americans they can no longer visit Cuba, the place they’ve been forbidden to visit for the last 55 years.
Any sudden U turn in U.S. policy is going to create chaos and massive legal problems. Washington lawyer Robert Muse, told the Miami Herald:
“Because the companies struck deals in good faith based on existing U.S. regulations, they could be entitled to compensation or would need to be grandfathered-in to new policies, said Muse. That interpretation is based on a provision of the Fifth Amendment that says no one can be deprived of property “without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. These companies have expended real time and money on these deals.”
For certain many American businesses interested in doing business with Cuba are adopting a “wait and see” stance. In the meantime, the new President has his hands very full hands for the next four years. He is going to be very, very busy. In a term of just four years he has a lot of promises to fill, renegotiate NAFTA, build a wall, change healthcare in America, rid the world of the ISIS and make American cities safe in spite of all those semi-automatics roaming around.
In the meantime, the rest of the world and Cuba, somewhat over the initial shock of “the morning after the night before,” will move forward building trade relations, opportunities and investments in Cuba.