Among those closely focused on the twists and turns of the US election battle are the people of Cuba and the Americans who want to see stronger ties between the two countries.
Whether Clinton or Trump ends up in the White House could make a big difference to their lives and the future of the US trade embargo that the Cubans say has strangled their economy.
James Williams, President of the ‘Engage Cuba’ coalition explained the candidates’ position: “Hillary is publicly and privately committed to lifting the embargo, moving forward, so I think there’s no chance that she will reverse anything that President Obama has done, I think she will expand on it. And President Trump, who knows, I think he’s been all over the place on Cuba, you know, last year he was fine with the opening, then you know his numbers started to turn in Florida, he went back on that, and now he says he’s going to reverse things … I think that’s very unlikely.”
At Havana’s annual trade fair in early November concerns that red tape and slow approvals from Washington and Havana are making it hard for US companies to do business in Cuba were tempered by hope for the future.
Jodi Hanson Bond, President of the US-Cuba Business Council, said: “We have made so much progress in the U.S-Cuba relationship that those of us in the business community, we are still advocating, this is going to be irreversible, regardless of whether or not it is President Clinton or President Trump. We know that the business community will maintain its efforts to lift the sanctions.”
US companies that want to do business in Cuba mostly say they are in a holding pattern until the presidential and congressional elections bring more clarity.
All the changes so far have come from US President Barack Obama using his executive powers to allow some trade with Cuba.
But the economic embargo the US imposed 55 years ago still prevents most commerce.
Only the Republican-controlled US Congress can end it – which is why elections in 34 states for Senate seats and 435 seats in the House of Representatives are just as important as the race for the White House.