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Cuba: On anniversary of Obama visit, Cubans fret over whether Biden will resume detente

HAVANA (Reuters) – Five years after former U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Havana, many Cubans hope Joe Biden will also pursue detente but fret he will not do so as energetically after recent White House announcements.

Obama visited Havana in March 2016, the first trip by a U.S. president to Cuba in 88 years. It was the culmination of a diplomatic opening towards the Communist-run country, seeking to put an end to years of Cold War-era hostility.

His successor Donald Trump unraveled that detente and tightened the crippling U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, arguing that he would force democratic change.

Biden, who was vice president under Obama, vowed during his campaign to reverse Trump’s policy shifts that “have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.”

But the White House said earlier this month a broader Cuba policy shift was not currently among Biden’s top priorities, even if it was “carefully reviewing policy decisions made in the prior administration, including the decision to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

“I am very concerned that Biden will not continue in the same vein as Obama and will allow himself to be influenced by the politics of Cubans in Miami,” said retired Cuban economist Ileana Yarza.

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