The French president’s historic visit to Cuba is part of a European effort to pursue closer relations with the island.
“I had before me a man who made history,” said French President François Hollande after meeting former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. That’s a curiously positive response to a meeting with the man who could well have ended history had the Cuban Missile Crisis gone down a little differently. But it is typical of the positive response Cuba is getting from Europe right now.
The world is going through a kind of “Cuban spring.” Except not much is actually changing in the nation’s dictatorial government. Instead, other nation’s attitudes toward Cuba are thawing.
Mr. Hollande’s visit was historic. Since America pried the island out of the Spanish Empire’s control in the 1898 Spanish-American War, no French president has ever visited. No European leader has visited since 1980. Hollande’s visit is a sign of a shift in Europe’s attitude toward Cuba that has been building for several years.
Cuba is the only Latin American nation that the EU does not have a bilateral trade deal with. Closer diplomatic relations, as well as increased trade, would go with such a deal.
Progress is good. The EU and Cuba held their third round of talks in March, and they hope to conclude both a trade deal and new political agreement by the end of the year.
Even without such a deal, Europe has a strong economic relationship with Cuba. The EU is Cuba’s second-largest trading partner and the island’s biggest source of foreign investment. One third of all tourists visiting Cuba each year comes from the EU.
Cuba’s warming relationship with America presents the EU with both a major opportunity and a threat. If Cuba is fully welcomed back into the community of nations, and America’s diplomatic and economic sanctions are completely lifted, the island will grow in power and wealth. Europe’s investments could pay off economically and politically. This new friendliness between the U.S. and Cuba makes it easier for the EU and Cuba to develop a closer relationship—the EU no longer has to worry about alienating America in pursuing this new friendship.
Despite the pope’s mediation between the U.S. and Cuba, the island is still under an anti-America regime. There is great danger for America in allowing what is really an enemy nation to build strong ties with a foreign power. For more on America’s vulnerability to Cuba, read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s March cover story, “The Deadly Dangerous U.S.-Cuba Deal.” ▪
Full article: Courting Cuba—The EU Is Eager to Move In (The Trumpet)