After this weekend’s announcement on the passing of Fidel Castro, two very different reactions came from President Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump. Trump issued a confusingly blunt proclamation on Twitter before his team regrouped with a more coherent statement to condemn Castro’s brutal regime. Meanwhile, Obama did not sugarcoat the matter (like Justin Trudeau did) but still offered condolences to Castro’s relatives.
So, it’s no surprise that Trump woke up on Monday morning, completely ignored his own false claim of winning the popular vote, and set about threatening to undo Obama’s efforts to repair diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Obama did so despite continued human rights offenses by the country, but he aimed to make small steps in helping the Cuban people. However, Trump tweeted that if Cuba didn’t make “a better deal” for all parties, he would erase the renewed diplomatic dies.
The timing is not great here. In August, the first U.S. commercial flight (in decades) landed in Cuba, and on Monday, the first such flight (an American Airlines plane) landed in Havana. This landmark event happened during a period of mourning to boot, but that didn’t stop Trump from tweeting his intent to quash diplomatic strides between the two countries.
This threat aims to undo almost two years of renewed measures that have been praised by Human Rights Watch (which has kept a critical eye on President Raul Castro’s continuation of Fidel’s reign of repression). These efforts included the Cuban embassy putting down roots in Washington D.C. and Obama becoming the first president to set foot on Cuban soil in decades. All of this was aimed at normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations and improving conditions for the Cuban people. These were the first steps in what was understood to be a lengthy process, but if Trump has his way, further progress won’t take place.