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On August 31st, 2016, the first commercial flight directly from the United States to Cuba touched down on the once-forbidden island’s soil. It was a tangible result of nearly three years of efforts from the Obama administration to ease 58 years of tension between the U.S. and Cuba by relaxing trade and travel restrictions, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and taking the island nation off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror.

But any security of lasting reparations was short-lived. The 2016 presidential election and the death of Fidel Castro marked November with uncertainty. The former Cuban dictator’s death was the emblematic end of an anti-democratic era for Cuban people, but the impending closure of the Obama era proved to have a far bigger impact – and the relationship with Cuba seemed to grow even more fragile when Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States on November 8th – only 70 days after that first commercial flight.

On November 9th, the tumult between the two countries churned again. Cuba activated their troops and began a five-day nationwide military exercise to prepare its “troops and population to counter a range of enemy action,” as described by the country’s Ministry of Defense. It was a sign from the Cuban government of a potential emerging diplomatic strain – a signal to the Trump administration that they would be ready, just in case. Ready for exactly what, no one could say.


Cuba in the Age of Trump

How Cuba reacted to Trump’s Inauguration Day. Zach Doleac for Rolling Stone


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