Cuba has, for decades, been a form of political pathology for US political consciousness. Fidel Castro loomed in his indestructible guise, tormenting a succession of American presidents with his seeming indestructibility. Efforts at deposing and assassination had conspicuously failed. It was left, then, to Washington to insulate, seal off and keep Cuba as an infectious patient of international relations, fearing its global reach and influence.
With the softening of this manic stance under the Obama administration, Cuba ceased being the incurable. It even had promise. US business officials were smacking their lips and rubbing hands. The new Cuba might well return to the Cuba of old, one more open to reverie, smut and cash. The diplomats would return; the US embassy would reopen in Havana.
Then, Donald Trump happened. A new administration, the government of 140 character messages, roars and expectoration. The cool seemed likely to return in the heat of intolerance and misguided encounters. In June, Trump announced that limitations on trade and tourism with Havana would be imposed. It was a corrective of sorts to yet another “one-sided deal” and halted people-to-people exchanges.
Since the fall of 2016, staff at the US embassy have been troubled. Up to 21 diplomats have been affected by what is now being considered an attack. (These had been previously deemed, in State Department speak, “incidents”.) American media outlets, from the Old…