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Cuba Deals with Crucial Changes: Recession, Fidel Castro’s Death, and the End of the Wet Foot/Dry Foot Policy

LADB Article ID: 80191
Category/Department: Cuba
Date: 2017-01-26
By: Daniel Vázquez

Cuba looks ahead to 2017 with soberness and uncertainty, faced with its first recession since 1993, the recent death of Fidel Castro, Donald Trump’s coming to power with a Republican majority in the US Congress, and Barack Obama’s ending of the wet foot/dry foot immigration policy in one of his final acts as president. The outlook has become more complex than usual. Cuba’s Gross National Product decreased 0.9% in 2016, exports declined, and the fall of oil prices affected Cuba’s bilateral agreements with Venezuela. Despite austerity measures and cuts in fuel consumption in the second half of 2016, a certain air of optimism has been maintained because of the increase in US tourism and the ongoing negotiations with the Obama administration. Castro’s death on Nov. 25, 2016, meant the end of more than 50 years of his leadership in the nationalistic Cuban project and his ongoing confrontation with the US and its policies toward Latin America. Trump has met with members of the exile community in Florida and has promised them his support. A few hours after Castro’s death, he described him as a “brutal dictator” and later threatened to break the rapprochement initiated by Obama, asserting that “if Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban American people, and the US as a whole, I will terminate the deal.”

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