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As Angry Rhetoric Rises, Are U.S.-Cuba Relations At A Breaking Point Again?

Mark Lennihan
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez during a visit to New York last month.

Are U.S.-Cuba relations on the brink? They’ve been in decline under President Donald Trump. But the two governments are now raising the angry rhetoric to levels not seen since before they restored diplomatic ties four years ago.

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez accused the U.S. of violating the terms of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He said the Trump administration is meddling in Cuba’s internal affairs by criticizing its treatment of imprisoned dissidents like José Daniel Ferrer.

It’s highly debatable whether that constitutes a breach of diplomatic ties. Either way, last week the Trump administration accused Cuba of harassing the head of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Charge d’Affaires Mara Tekach, who has been openly critical of communist Cuba’s human rights record.

Shortly after Rodríguez’s latest tweet, the U.S. issued a new economic sanction against Cuba designed to make it harder to import oil from its ally Venezuela.

The U.S. and Cuba severed diplomatic ties in 1961 and then re-established them in 2015. They’ve been strained since Trump began re-asserting economic sanctions against Cuba two years ago — and since U.S. diplomats in Havana recently complained of injury due to alleged "sonic attacks" there, which Cuba strongly denies.

But the latest escalation of animosity is raising fears that the cold-war adversaries may be headed toward a de facto, if not real, break-off of diplomatic relations again.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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