The United States’ “Backyard” and Cuba

Fernando Ravsberg*

All of Latin America demands that Cuba participate at the Summit of the Americas.
All of Latin America demands that Cuba participate at the Summit of the Americas.

HAVANA TIMES — The United States has had to yield to pressures from Latin America and accept Cuba’s participation at the next Summit of the Americas, to be held on April 10, 2015. President Barack Obama had no choice: had he maintained the veto, it would have meant the end of these presidential gatherings.

Washington applied as much pressure as it could, but several important countries in the region warned the US they would not attend the meeting if Cuba was excluded. A basic analysis of the situation in the region would have spared the US the need to take back its decision.

Four Latin American countries (Brazil, Uruguay, Nicaragua and El Salvador) are currently governed by former members of left-wing guerrillas, the same groups the United States labeled “terrorists” and combatted, providing armies with weapons and training in counterinsurgency methods.

At the time, Havana had become the regional rearguard of these groups, the field hospital where they sent their wounded and, on occasion, the training camp where combatants were trained in guerrilla tactics.

Barack Obama will have another opportunity to greet Raul Castro.
Barack Obama will have another opportunity to greet Raul Castro.

Likewise, the president of Chile is none other than the socialist Michelle Bachelet, whose father was detained and died in prison following the coup staged by General Pinochet, who overthrew the constitutional President Salvador Allende with the support of Washington on 9/11/1973.

The President of Bolivia is that young, coca leaf farmer whom the United States once considered a drug trafficker. At the beginning of his political career, Evo Morales, the first Latin American aboriginal to govern a country, only had the support of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Cuba’s ties to Caracas are well-known and the political alliance between these two countries is the strongest in the region, for oil is as important to Havana as Cuba’s medical doctors are to Venezuela’s social missions.

Cuba’s health personnel continue to spread through the region. More than 11 thousand Cuban doctors are already working in remote areas of Brazil, poor neighborhoods, jungle areas and parts of the countryside where no local physician is willing to practice.

Cuba’s medical missions in Brazil are so important that, in a few years’ time, they could well pay off Havana’s debt to Brasilia for the construction of the Mariel port, a facility that will allow Cuba to receive large vessels and create a special development and trade zone.

Dilma Rousseff and Raul Castro. Latin America’s most important countries maintain close ties with Cuba.
Dilma Rousseff and Raul Castro. Latin America’s most important countries maintain close ties with Cuba.

As though this weren’t enough, relations between Washington and Brazil are very tense following the recent revelation that US intelligence services were spying on President Dilma’s communications.

An additional 1,000 Cuban medical doctors are currently working in Ecuador, whose president, Rafael Correa, has left-leaning sympathies that make him identify with Havana. Cuba also enjoys the unwavering support of Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez.

The United States is having a tough time even with its regional allies. Mexico is building closer ties with the island’s government, cancelling the better part of its debt and offering it credits to strengthen bilateral trade, after years of stagnation.

Colombia, Washington’s other great ally, is immersed in peace negotiations with the country’s main guerrilla group. Bogota has a debt with Cuba, one of the countries that has facilitated exchanges between the two parties and whose territory is used for the meetings between the insurgents and the government.

Washington’s policies towards Havana are so out of touch with the times that only two countries around the world support it. It has no sympathizers in the hemisphere. In fact, all countries save the United States maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Even former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton suggested that Obama normalize the situation. Had he listened, he may have spared himself the embarrassment of yielding to pressures from a group of countries the United States once considered its “backyard.”
(*) Visit the blog of Fernando Ravsberg.

27 thoughts on “The United States’ “Backyard” and Cuba

  • Give Cuba their freedom? The only people denying freedom for Cuba are the Castros and their supporters.

    When the Cuban people are free of the Castro dictatorship then they will at last be free.

  • “Moses, the world is demanding it.” Really? How? When? If by “demanding” you mean the, albeit nearly unanimous, non-descript vote taken by the UN every year then that’s not hardly what I would call a ‘demand”. It is a poorly promoted, negligibly reported toothless tiger of a vote. With the exception of the ‘usual suspects’ of anti-US countries who make blowhard speeches, the majority of countries don’t even send their primary ambassadors to hear the speeches or cast the vote. After the tally is taken, there are no sanctions, no repercussions, no consequences whatsoever. Hardly demanding.

  • Like Cuba, I don’t dislike the American people…but you’re right, I absolutely hate your American government.

    “We are the greatest givers of both our time and our money.”

    Certainly America does a lot of good in the world too, but this does not excuse the continuing American war on Cuba. Give Cuba its freedom…Moses, the world is demanding it. You talk of your government upholding virtues, and in the same breath, your government continues to repress a poor and nonthreatening country due to your country’s decades old spite. When we cut through the crap, there is no other explanation for America’s tyranny.

  • “I just don’t see it dude.”

    I rest my case.

  • Without really getting into it Terry I think you have to admit that the Soviet Union and then Russia have frequently used their veto on the Security Council to negate the democratic will of the UN. This too must qualify for your comment:
    Absolute hypocrisy, no credibility, no honor, no respect.
    This too represents “rogue inaction”

  • Are you daff? The UN vote does not supersede the will of the American people. The UN Charter recognizes national sovereignty as prevailing over UN votes. Your personal dislike/jealously of the US is apparent. Embarrassed? Hardly. As I dictate this comment, Public Radio is recognizing the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps began by President Bill Clinton. Along with the Peace Corps organization started during the Kennedy Administration, Americans are 5 times more likely to volunteer to help strangers both here in the US and abroad than any other country in the world. We are the greatest givers of both our time and our money. No, I am hardly embarrassed.

  • Current members of the UN Human Rights Commission includes such serial violators of humans rights as Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela, Vietnam…

    The UN has zero moral authority.

  • Daniel Ortega, in addition to being a Marxist ideologue responsible for political repression and violence against the Nicarauguan people, has also been accused of child molestation, incest and rape by his step-daughter.

    So the Nicaragua scumbag is indeed “as welcome as a skunk at a garden party”.

  • Yes, the world hates America so much. That’s why millions of immigrants flood to America every year. Because they hate it.

  • Moses, why would I presume to know what you do or do not know?? Easy. You constantly make that abundantly obvious and clear, while also embarrassing yourself and the nation that gave birth to your twisted comprehension of the world…and America’s place in it. Here we go again…you and your double-speak gobblety goop definition of what it conveniently means to be democratic. Moses, if the US intends to demonstrate that they are the leader of the free world, and if your country intends to uphold and promote democracy on the international stage…then there is no alternative…your government must abide by the UN’s democratic vote regarding Cuba…othewise America renders the UN as completely meaningless and worthless. How can any other country ever take the UN seriously if one of the UN’s founding nations can’t set a positve example for the membership and abide by their democratic vote? This same yearly vote has been continually ignored by your government for over 2 decades…your government has had more than enough time to comply, nullifying any attempt to excuss their rogue inaction. Absolute hypocracy, no credibility, no honor, no respect.

  • For a good summary of U.S. intervention in its “backyard,” Latin America, I would like to share with you a link to My Channel on YouTube — josephmulligan1 — and invite you to view a series of videos made by yours truly on Phil & Sue
    Wheaton, who have devoted their lives to the struggle for peace and justice in
    the U.S. and in other parts of the world, especially Latin America.

    Simply go to josephmulligan1 and look for the series on the
    Wheatons. (Two videos in Spanish are first on the list.) The
    Wheatons’ narration and reflections are very informative and could constitute
    at least one course in history or political science!
    Joe Mulligan


    A Series of Videos about
    Phil and Sue Wheaton

    1. WHEATONS PART 1 – Interview of Phil Wheaton in

    2. WHEATONS PART 2 – Interview of Sue Wheaton in

    3. WHEATONS PART 3 – Phil Wheaton on Chile

    4. WHEATONS PART 4 – Sue Wheaton on El Salvador

    5. WHEATONS PART 5 – Phil Wheaton on Politics and

    6. WHEATONS PART 6 – Phil Wheaton on the Prophetic

    7. WHEATONS PART 7 – Sue Wheaton on Civil Rights,
    Vietnam, and the Assassination of President Kennedy

    8. WHEATONS PART 8 – Villa Grimaldi, Torture Center
    in Chile mentioned by Phil; Interview of Phil & Sue at Managua Airport.

  • What? I am talking about Dan claiming that Bush’s remarks were “arrogant….” and then in the same breadth using the same remarks against Obama. As far as America’s reputation, Americans have heard the same crap since the end of WWII. Envy manifests itself in all sorts of forms. Here’s the test: American stuff still sells. Americans still travel without visas. American Presidents still capture front page news. America is still the top immigration destination. If these actions reflect overwhelming animosity and contempt, then “Thank you may I have another”. Terry, what I believe is that YOU are projecting your animosity and contempt for America on others. I just don’t see it dude.

  • You think??? Moses, you are oblivious, like your government, to the level of overwhelming animosity and contempt that the world feels towards America.

  • ” Soon the UN will vote on the embargo and the vote is likely to be 180-3 in favor of lifting the embargo. After the vote, the lives of Americans will continue just as it had prior to the vote.’
    Such arrogance. No wonder the USA is so hated in so many countries of the world.

  • Why would you presume to know what I do or do not understand? The US is not oblivious to the UN vote and its underlying disagreement with US policy. We simply disagree that lifting the embargo without regime change will bring about the results that reflect our ideals. I am not sure how our disagreement mocks democratic ideals. National sovereignty trumps UN votes. This is proven on a daily basis around the world, not only in the US. Nonetheless, if by “you” you mean the US, there are a lot of issues that are far more “embarrassing” to the US. The good news is that we are constantly trying to improve ourselves. I find that very American attribute far from loathsome.

  • You’re unnecessarily mean-spirited and overly focused on my personal life. If you can’t debate my views with facts, personal attacks won’t work either. Very weird.

  • Moses, you’re unbelievable. You can’t even begin to understand how utterly arrogant, self-righteous, and totally oblivious you are to the significance of the United Nation’s world democratic vote condemning US policy towards Cuba. The inaction of your government to heed world opinion for over 2 decades is absolutely nothing to be proud of. You’re nothing but a hypocrite. Your nation has zero credibility for the democratic ideals that America claims to uphold, cherish, and promote. You make a mockery of the democratic process and everything it stands for…all the while having the gall to criticize the Cuban government for their deficiencies. With your loathsome attitude, YOU are the embarrassment.

  • Hey Terry, thanks for giving me a giggle! I refer to your comment that;: “a continual lack of toilet paper in Habana is absolutely immaterial” – that is as long as your finger doesn’t penetrate Granma!

  • As one married to a Cuban lady I take your comment as offensive in the extreme. If you can only think in sexual terminology then get into the pornographic sites where you belong!

  • The only thing good about Cuba is their women right ,.you hypocrite.

  • Sour grapes? Not in the least bit. As long as Latin America keeps drinking our Coca-Cola, eating our McDonalds hamburgers, wearing our Nike shoes and watching our movies, we could care less about how you feel about Cuba. That’s the part about US/Cuban relations that Castro bootlickers don’t understand. Soon the UN will vote on the embargo and the vote is likely to be 180-3 in favor of lifting the embargo. After the vote, the lives of Americans will continue just as it had prior to the vote. Votes look good on paper but in the real world, Cuba will continue to stumble along. I don’t what embarrassment you speak of. I have traveled to at least 19 foreign countries and I did not apply for a visa to any one of them. My US dollar is exchangeable everywhere I go. The US relationship with Cuba has never been an issue for me any place that I have visited.

  • Terry I could not have said it better myself. Latin America and the rest of the World need to step up and stand together against the bully that America has become.

  • I could understand if you chose to criticize and condemn the former President Bush for his remarks regarding Ortega. But why do you wish the same behavior that you describe as “arrogant, unstatesmanlike and imperial” would be repeated with regards to Obama? That seems petty and reflects a certain amount of hatefulness on your part.

  • Incredibly heartening to see Latin America finally losing satellite status and achieving true sovereignty. Although they still try, e.g. Honduras, the investors, generals and politicians in the US can no longer simply unilaterally decide that a regime has to go and pull out the latest plans and techniques for overthrowing a government and brutally, and I mean brutal, not like the Cuba – haters use the term, repress all dissent. The only thing that would make me happier would be if the heads of those countries gave Obama the same arrogant, unstatesmanlike and imperial treatment the Bush #1 would give to Daniel Ortega at international meetings, calling him “as welcome as a skunk at a garden party” and refusing to acknowledge his presence.

  • Nerver mind Fernando’s hint of self-satisfaction…it sounds more like a lot of sour grapes from you, Moses. The tide is certainly shifting. You’re either with us, or you’re against us. It seems that most are not with you and your government, Moses. A continued lack of toilet paper in Habana is absolutely inmaterial when recognizing the significance of this earth shattering revelation from your neighbors. Washington’s policies are indeed far out of touch with the times. But then again, I personally think your government has been out of touch with reality concerning many issues for far too long…including many domestic policies too. Don’t get me started on gun control. I must say, it’s not only going to be interesting, but rather comical, if not sad, to watch the US continue to back-peddle on their holier-than-thou attitude and eat crow when it comes to Cuba. The US is now like the neighborhood bully who has finally been told to grow up and stop living in the past. The world doesn’t revolve around the United States of America. Your govenment would do well to become more proactive with policy change towards Cuba to save you even more embarrassment.

  • As the largest country in the Americas and sharing the longest undefended border in the world, I had considered that Canada was the USA’s greatest regional ally – more so than Mexico and Columbia. In 1959 only two countries in the Americas maintained diplomatic relationships with Cuba following the revolution and they were Canada and Mexico. Tourism is Cuba’s leading industry and the largest single contributor is Canada. The Castro family regime is loath to recognise that a capitalist country contributes much of it’s revenue and that Sherritt International with its involvement in nickel mining, oil and electricity sectors is a serious contributor. It is possible to watch Cuban State TV for months on end without mention of Canada whereas Venezuela is mentioned virtually hourly – with lengthy diatribes from Nicholas Maduro which must gain the admiration of Fidel Castro Ruz but cause Cubans to switch to watching sport.
    The comment that Cuba’s medical doctors working in Brazil may well pay off the Castro family regime’s debt for the construction of the port of Mariel demonstrates yet again the exploitation of those dedicated medics.
    One of the blind patches in the regime thinking is that a facility designed for large vessels and a theoretical special development and trade zone requires massive economic growth which the GAESA military empire in incapable of fulfilling. It will require the development of private enterprise – capitalist – business to provide the necessary energy and initiative.
    There is an old saying that: “Birds of a feather flock together.”. Mention of the Cuba Venezuela relationship omits to include the many Cuban teachers working in Venezuela. To the Cuban regime, supplying teachers to Venezuela is more important than addressing the shortage of teachers for Cuba’s own students.
    Cuba remains dependent upon capitalist countries in the Americas providing economic support!

  • I hope that Fernando is able to read and understand my comment. I sense in his post a hint of self-satisfaction that the US is losing its influence in the region and that Cuba is gaining acceptance. That certainly seems to be true. But to what end does this shift in alliances serve? Will this cause Brazil to stop being the largest Latin American country purchasing FORD trucks? Will this shift cause a reduction in the trade between the US and Mexico such that the US will no longer be Mexico’s largest trading partner by multiples? Will Cuba being able to sit at the table in Panama next year change the calculus that causes the Venezuela to stop selling oil to the US, its largest market price customer? After all the preening, I hope Fernando realizes that Havana will still face toilet paper shortages after the Panama Summit. Cuba will still heavily rely on remittances from Cubans abroad and buildings will continue to collapse and kill people. But if Fernando feels better that a Castro got an invitation to the party in Panama, and that’s enough for him, then “Disfrutalo!”.

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