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July 24, 2017

Trump: Thunders and Traps


Much has been said and will be said about the grotesque show that took place in Miami on June 16 and the lies and threats against Cuba there pronounced. Trump’s speech, incoherent and clumsy like all of his, made at least two things clear: he will do all he can to harden US policy toward Cuba, canceling the timid steps that his predecessor had taken and [the fact that] the current President is an irremediable liar.

It is customary there in the North to mix politics with spectacle, information with entertainment, even if, as in this case, in terrible taste. For those who look at it from the outside, a good dose of Cartesian doubt is advisable and prudence is necessary to avoid being confused. Especially if it’s about what someone says like the quirky occupant of the White House.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a tireless fighter for justice and civil rights, was right to reject Trump’s speech. She stressed the importance of fighting to prevent specific regulations which would translate the presidential directive into mandatory rules that are even more damaging to peoples of the two countries. There, on that very day, there was evident proof of the correctness of her concern.

In his speech, Trump announced that he would issue a new executive order to replace the one already repealed that had guided Obama’s policy in its last two years. There in front of everyone, he added his signature to the document that appears on the official site of the White House, but which nobody read.

What he said does not correspond exactly with what he signed and the latter is what counts, because it has legal force and will guide the conduct of his administration. The contrast is evident, for example, in the case of remittances many Cubans on the island receive from their relatives residing in the United States. According to the speaker in Miami, such remittances would continue and would not be affected.

But right there, in the same act, without hiding, he signed an order that says exactly the opposite. On this issue of remittances, the document entitled “Presidential Memorandum for the Strengthening of The United States Policy towards Cuba,” which Trump signed and which was publicized by the White House. The fine print states that there would be millions of Cubans living on the island who would not be allowed to receive remittances.

In Section III, subsection (D), the definition of “prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba” is now extended to cover not only the leaders of the Cuban State and Government, but its officers and employees, the military and civilian workers of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, the cadres of the CTC, of the trade unions, and the Defense Committees of the Revolution. Professor William M. Leogrande estimates that this would be more than one million families.

Trump boasted that he would drop all Obama’s moves and he probably intends to do so.

But he knows that this contradicts the interests and opinions of some business sectors linked to the Republican Party and that is why he hides behind aggressive rhetoric and often undecipherable jargon. With regard to the issue of Cubans and remittances he had no choice but to use his favorite weapon: the lie.

We must now see how they write and apply this new order that seeks to punish the Cuban population as a whole.

This column originally appeared in Rebelión.

Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.

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