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Castro's Death, Trump Presidency Raise Questions About US-Cuba Ties


Airport workers receive the JetBlue flight 387 holding a United States, and Cuban national flag, on the airport tarmac in Santa Clara, Cuba, Aug. 31, 2016.

Airport workers receive the JetBlue flight 387 holding a United States, and Cuban national flag, on the airport tarmac in Santa Clara, Cuba, Aug. 31, 2016.

During his life, Fidel Castro blamed Cuba’s economic problems on the United States and its restrictions on trade with Cuba.

Now, after Castro’s death, many people are wondering what will happen to the economic relationship between the two countries. The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president will likely make the situation even more complex.

The U.S. trade restrictions on Cuba – or, the embargo – remain in place. But President Barack Obama recently eased some of those limits.

Obama reestablished diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States. The two sides opened embassies in each other’s capitals in 2015. And the improved relations have led to an increase in the number of U.S. visitors to Cuba.

Yet many U.S. companies say the government in Cuba makes it hard for foreigners to do business there.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez says economic links remain firmly connected to Castro's family.

"Do you want to do business in Cuba, do you want to be a part of the hotel tourism industry? You have to see Raul's (Cuban President Raul Castro) son. You want to go ahead and do agriculture business in Cuba? You have to do it with his son-in-law, both high-ranking officials of the Cuban military."

Jose Azel is an expert on Cuba at the University of Miami in Florida. He agrees that the Cuban government has too many restrictions on foreign businesses.

Azel said that foreign investors must share control of their business interests with the Cuban military. And, he adds, the foreigners cannot control who works for their company in Cuba.

But Azel does not believe the country will change its central planning system soon.

Another issue for U.S.-Cuba relations is the election of businessman Donald Trump. During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized President Obama's moves to ease tensions with between the two countries.

Trump said he will undo Obama’s actions unless Cuba gives more religious and political freedom to its people. He also wants Cuba to release political prisoners.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Ken Bredemeier and Jim Randle reported this story for VOA. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted their story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

embargon. a government order that limits trade in some way

high-rankingadj. having a high rank or position

central planning – adj. In a centrally planned economy, the government makes most economic decisions

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