The Boeing 737 aircraft used by the Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence flew from Miami to Havana long before joining the transport team available to beat Hillary Clinton and get Donald Trump elected on November 8, 2016.
It’s a subtle irony if one takes into account that Pence does not play the normalisation game with Cuba, not even in the Republican way. That, despite the obvious interest of farmers and entrepreneurs of his state, Indiana: the increasingly common motive among governors of any political party who join trade missions to displays of good will towards Cuba with increasing theatricality.
Before its National Convention, the Democrats already put their willingness to lift the trade embargo and the (tourist) travel ban into writing. Two of the restrictions listed in the great compendium of sanctions that the blockade has maintained against since 1960.
The Platform of the United States Democratic Party, the “Guidelines” – to translate it into Cuban – of political organisation of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, set down, in fifty pages, its position in domestic and foreign policy issues; who they believe who they will defend over the next four years.
In its two paragraphs dedicated to Latin America the document indicates that “in Cuba, we will take advantage of the historic opening under President Obama and end the travel restrictions and the embargo,” in a summary of foreign policy goals entitled “A Leader in World.”
“We will also support the Cuban people and will back their chance to decide their own future and enjoy the same human rights and freedoms that people everywhere deserve,” concluded the little mention of the island, with a line identical to the earlier communiques and pronouncements from the White House and US State Department, which prognoses a sense of continuity in goals and methods.
It refers to the situation in Venezuela in a similar vein. The Democrats also mention Haiti, Mexico (a valuable partner) and the maintenance of “a long-term agreement” with Colombia.
A columnist for The Washington Post considered this to be the most progressive platform adopted by the Democratic Party in its history. It could have been written by a party committee controlled by supporters of Hillary Clinton, according to what she said in the Wall Street Journey.
In its own platform, the Republicans have devoted a paragraph to Cuba in “The Family of the Americas.” The text considers Obama’s opening of relations to be shameful, calling on Congress to “maintain the current US law that imposes conditions on the lifting of sanctions on the island.”
They also reaffirmed the principles of the Cuban Adjustment Act, “recognizing the right of Cubans to flee Communism”, even though the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump had come out in favour of ending the very same immigration benefits, granted since 1996.
The total lifting of the blockade depends on the United States Congress, a bicameral legislative body. The Democrats estimate chances of winning a majority of seats in the Senate, but a similar victory seems unlikely in the House of Representatives, which has been under Republican control since 2011.
Early on, Hillary Clinton promised to maintain and expand Obama’s new policy towards Cuba in a speech in Miami on July 31, 2015. The Democratic presidential candidate shares the hemispherical projection of the current administration and sees the rapprochement with Havana as a way to improve its relations with the rest of Latin America.
Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential candidate, is one of the lawmakers who unhesitatingly supports the process of normalisation with Cuba. Kaine, aligned with the bigger picture of the restoration of relations, said in July 2015 that the reopening of embassies “marked the beginning of a new era in US diplomacy in Latin America. I am confident that a policy of engagement, rather than isolation, will be more effective to advance US interests and democratic values in Cuba “.
Senator to the state of Virginia, third largest exporter to Cuba within the USA, after Georgia and Louisiana, Hilary’s traveling companion has the same agribusiness interests in sight that brough Governor Terry McAuliffe to Havana.
Kaine is one of the first co-sponsors of a bill against the restrictions that prevent Americans from freely travelling to Cuba (they currently have to apply to one of twelve categories that are approved by the US Treasury Department).
The last time they took stock, the project had the backing of 51 of the hundred US senators, including a few Republicans who have no problems with turning the page.