Cuba. On June 16, US President Donald Trump’s long-anticipated first speech on the new administration’s policy towards Cuba came. As expected, he criticized both the Cuban system and its predecessor Barack Obama’s diplomacy, which included re-established diplomatic relations in December 2014 and a US president’s first visit to Cuba since 1928. Despite expected changes to Obama’s policy, the speech was largely considered rhetoric, and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez reiterated his government’s determination to continue a mutually respectful dialogue with the United States. According to Countryaah.com, a number of U.S. business and retired military representatives also urged President Trump to continue the process of normalization with Cuba. The US will still have its embassy in Havana and no ban on money transfers will be introduced. One thing that many missed was that President Trump invited Cuba’s ambassador to his installation in January. However, the Cuban government’s fierce response to Trump’s speech suggested that any easy-going relationship will not develop during Trump’s term in office. The reactions of dissident groups were mixed.
One of the most peculiar features of Cuban-American relations this year was the alleged health problems of employees at the US embassy in Havana. Dizziness and hearing impairment were said to have been caused by some sort of sound attack, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that in light of the incident, the embassy’s continued open conduct would be evaluated. Foreign Minister Rodríguez, for his part, responded that his government would never deal with such and that it was all the subject of a police investigation. Officials at the Canadian Embassy were also affected.
Cuba’s complicated election process started during the year and began with municipal elections, which were postponed until November 26 due to Hurricane Irma’s ravages in October. The election result was not very interesting in itself as no election campaigns are conducted and no candidates outside the Communist Party are allowed. But the elections form the basis for the cabinet’s election of a new president, which will take place in February 2018, when President Raúl Castro will resign according to his own statement. Few doubt that his Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel will be elected. However, Castro is expected to remain as First Secretary of the Communist Party and continue to exert great influence.