Cuba has survived more than 40 years of US sanctions and the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the succession of Fidel Castro’s brother Raul in 2008, and Obama’s decision to ‘normalise’ diplomatic relations by loosening the longstanding US trade embargo and easing some restrictions on travel, business, security, and immigration, there has recently been a level of cooperation with the US, and economic policies have become more open. But things are changing fast. Donald Trump has threatened to end the détente unless Cuba conforms to US political demands, and although Cuba has made it clear that the US should not expect concessions affecting the country’s sovereignty, its position is likely to become increasingly difficult and uncertain. Among other factors, supportive left wing governments in Latin America are moving towards the right, and Raul Castro has said that he intends to stand down in 2018.
Stephen Wilkinson will discuss this situation with us. He is Chairman of the UK based International Institute for the Study of Cuba, and editor of the International Journal of Cuban Studies. Among his other commitments, he lectures at King’s College London, and is a regular contributor to Jane’s Sentinel Reports on Cuba. He has been travelling to Cuba for over 30 years, has written extensively on Cuban culture, its domestic affairs and its international relations, and frequently leads study groups to the island.