“Cuba after Fidel”

On Thursday December 15, the World Affairs12-15-cuba-004 Council hosted it’s final program of 2016, a Member-to-Member lunch with the Director of Latin American Studies and the International Studies Program at Seattle University, Professor Marc McLeod. Council President & CEO Jackie Miller moderated the conversation that focused on the future of the U.S.-Cuba relationship in light of the passing of Fidel Castro and the election of Donald Trump as president.

Professor McLeod noted that Fidel’s death is unlikely to have any immediate political implications for Cuba, since he was incapacitated even before his brother Raul came to power in 2006. A likely change is expected in 2018, when for the first-time in over four decades a Castro will not oversee Cuban politics.

12-15-cuba-001The discussion addressed several political and socio-economic challenges faced by Cuba today including Cuba’s access to the internet, the economic domination of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces’, and the significant reduction of subsidized oil following Venezuela’s economic collapse.

However, recent developments to open Cuba’s private markets present enormous opportunities for American corporations. Last year Airbnb became the first American company to start operations in Cuba and just last week Google signed a historic deal with Cuban authorities that allow the internet giant to provide faster access to its data by installing servers on the island, but it remains unknown if Donald Trump will reverse the détente President Obama has established with Cuba.