US-Cuba ties and other world problems » Manila Bulletin News



United States President Donald Trump has been making decisions and taking steps that pulled the country back from the agreements and commitments it had made during previous administrations. He announced he would reduce the US share in the funding for the security and defense of the member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Then he rejected any US participation in the world effort to slow down climate change under the Paris Climate Change Agreement of December, 2015.

Last June 16, he cancelled the policy of closer relations with America’s southern neighbor Cuba, announcing new restrictions on travel and investments between the two countries. Former President Barack Obama had reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2016, ending 55 years of hostility that began when Fidel Castro came to power in the Cuban Revolution of 1961. But Trump condemned Obama’s move as a “completely one-sided deal.” He criticized the government of President Raul Castro as recessive, with its imprisonment of political prisoners, and other human rights abuses.

Cuba may be thousands of miles away from the Philippines on the other side of the globe, but they share a common history as colonies of Spain. Cuba and the Philippines both fought revolutions for their independence against Spain, but became spoils of war which passed on to the US after the latter won the Spanish-American War of the 1890s. Cuba gained its independence soon after the war, but the US held on to the Philippines, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.

The end of the US-Cuba “cold war” affected by Obama and Raul Castro in 2015 was generally welcomed by both Americans and Cubans; a poll found 63 percent of Americans and 97 percent of Cubans saw the normalization of relations as a positive development.

Other nations of the world cited it as it meant one less antagonistic relationship in the world. Filipinos welcomed it for the economic benefits it would bring to a brother nation. All that hope and expectation have now been set back by the Trump decision to reinstate the “cold war” between the two countries.

President Trump’s decisions on this and several other matters were recently noted by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres as reflecting US disengagement from many of the world’s issues and problems. He cited Trump’s proposed cuts in US funding for the UN, its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and his policy on immigration to the US.

If the US continues to disengage from such issues confronting the international community, Guterres said, the world may have to look elsewhere for leadership. And that, he said, won’t be good for America and for the world.

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