Cooperation on institutional reform
and social policies
Bert Hoffmann, Lead Researcher at the German Inst. for Global and Area Studies and Prof. at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Bert Hoffmann, Lead Res. at the German Inst. for Global and Area Studies and Prof. at Freie Univ. - 16-06-2022
Cuba and the European signed the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) in December 2016. In many ways it has been a very long six years. Four years of Trump’s US government disrupted the world and, with regard to Cuba, abruptly cut short the normalisation process begun under the Obama administration. Instead, the US embargo has been tightened. Moreover, a shrill rhetoric has returned, as much from Republicans in Washington as from the Cuban-American community in Miami, that casts long shadows over any ideas of dialogue and reconciliation. At the same time the Cuban economy has gone from bad to worse. The COVID-19 pandemic brought international tourism to a standstill and led to dramatic disruptions of the island’s economic and social life. Hopes for increased political tolerance in the post-Castro era have not been fulfilled. When popular frustration erupted in street protests on July 11th 2021, the state responded heavy-handedly. Hundreds were put on trial and given often draconic jail sentences. As plane traffic resumed, emigration soared.
Hopes that the Biden administration would return to a policy of engagement have not materialised, even if in May 2022 Washington lifted some restrictions on travel, remittances and immigration. Russia’s war on Ukraine spells further bad news for the Cuban economy: the cancellation of transatlantic flights from Russia has brought Russian tourism to a standstill; rising international prices of grain, energy and other products will further deepen Cuba’s hard currency crunch; while Russia’s capacity for investments, soft credit and assistance will be impaired.