Is Cuba Heading Towards Virtual Annexation to the US? / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

A man poses with his immigration documents in front of the Embassy of the United States in Havana, Cuba. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Miami, 28 January 2017 — Guided by the current political-military leadership, the Cuban economy could be heading “without pause, but without haste*” towards virtual annexation to the United States.

There would be no Platt Amendment, nor Marines landing on any Cuban beach, no any formal agreement or formal treaty that would make Cuba an associated state or one more star on the US flag, but everything suggests that, sooner rather than later, capital from the United States will disembark big time on the island and consume our trade.

The United States will be turned into our number one trading partner, the biggest source of tourism to Cuba, as well as the number one foreign investor, hotel towers will flourish on the beaches and keys of the Cuban paradise along with golf courses and low-wage factories making consumer goods, cars, buses and equipment for construction, agriculture and light industry.

No, it’s not a play on words. It’s a real possibility. The explanation is quite simple: the Cuban state economy is in crisis, the state owns the land and the beaches and has no interest in disposing of them for Cubans to exploit, be it private, cooperatives or emigrants, but they have all the delight of sharing them with foreign capital, especially American, consistent with a simple reading of the “menu of opportunities.”

Add to that the geographic and cultural proximity and the expressed desires of many American businesses: the president of the United States Chamber of Commerce just left the island.

Realizing an annexation would demand some arrangements between both governments: the Cuban government should improve its image with respect to human rights and allow free contracting with labor, although under the table it would be allowed “to guarantee its interests.”

The United States should move clearly to lift the embargo in a way that there are no obstacles for investment and businesses.

Foreign business interests would not fight the government for political power, they would only share economic power and Cuba would be widely penetrated by the great American capital. Possibly the dollar would circulate as the medium of exchange, remaining economically tied to the United States like never before, which would imply a kind of virtual annexation.

The road has been forged long ago, because the Cuban economy now depends in great measure on remittances from the United States, on the tourists from that country and on the trade in food.

The United States is one of the few countries in the world with the capital to undertake the investments Cuba needs in infrastructure, construction and services to bring the country up to the standards of modern economies and to create conditions for housing, mobility, Internet access and markets to ensure the prosperity of its business.

Until now, the full penetration of US capital has been impossible because the Cuban government has always conditioned it on the lifting of the embargo, which could not be fully lifted during the Obama administration because Republicans opposed giving the Democratic president the chance to crown his policy towards Cuba with that measure, with the real justification that Havana violates human rights.

Now there are the conditions for the rapprochement initiated by Obama to advance in the direction of the lifting of the embargo, because there is a Republican president characterized as a businessman who was already exploring the possibility of investing into hotels and golf courses in Cuba.

Trump is a friend and admirer of Putin, the one time friend of Raul Castro, and there is a congress dominated by Republicans and the Cuban government is “making noises” because of its recession and already destroyed economy and the effects caused by the situation in Venezuela and the reversal of the populist wave in Latin America.

Trump has just named Jason Greenblatt as special representative for international negotiations, and he is a supporter of the rapprochement with Cuba, ex-president of the Trump Consortium and its current legal director. According to specific information, he is the same person who visited Cuba to explore the possibilities of investing in hotels and golf courses.

The Mariel Special Development Zone is fully included in the interests of making the United States Cuba’s main trading partner, and it is no coincidence that with Trump as president a government delegation headed by Ana Teresa Igarza, the Zone’s director general, is visiting the US to explore the possibilities of entering into contracts with six US ports.

Raul Castro congratulated Trump on his electoral triumph. A Cuban delegation attended the inauguration. So far, the Cuban government has not made any negative statements to the new president (and there have been no lack of reasons to!) in the newspaper Granma or as gossip.

It’s a secret to no one that the Trump team was consulted by Obama on the rescinding of the wet foot/dry foot policy, demanded by the Cuban government, which could contribute to the effort to “normalize” relations.

If they continue along this path, virtual annexation could be realized soon. All this contrasts with the broad-based political and economic projects of the opposition, the socialist dissidence and the different thinking all of which prioritized the participation of Cubans in the control of the economy, but instead have been accused by government extremists of serving the imperialist enemy.

*Translator’s note: A phrase commonly used by Raul Castro and others in relation to the government’s implementation of planned changes.