Cuba is "prepared" for the possibility of Donald Trump's re-election and the continuation of crushing US sanctions against the island, according to Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
His challenge to the Trump administration came during a tour of central Cuba last week. The focus of the trip was officially the local economy, but the 2020 US election appeared to be very much on Diaz-Canel's mind.
"It's ridiculous how the United States practically every week sanctions Cuba and then uses manipulative language to say this is 'helping' the Cuban people." Diaz-Canel said. "We are not going to surrender nor dishonour ourselves nor get on our knees whatever price we have to pay.”
The price could be very high. Few countries have as much at stake as Cuba does in the November election. All the top Democratic candidates have declared they are in favour of the policy of engagement and lifting the six decades old US economic embargo on the communist-run island.
President Trump on the other hand dismantled the history-making Obama opening with Cuba and has placed some of the most punishing sanctions on the island in decades, which Cuba blames for shortages of fuel, food and even gas for cooking.
While Republican presidents have historically supported the claim by conservative Cuban Americans, most of whom live in swing state Florida, that Cuba needs to hold multi-party elections and make repatriations for property seized after the 1959 revolution, Trump has hit the island especially hard.
How to improve the island's struggling economy in the face of tougher sanctions is the most pressing challenge for Cuba's new president, who was born in 1960, the same year the US economic embargo went into place.