Cuba Looks to Russia for Security

By Progreso Weekly

Alejandro Castro Espín is a colonel at the Ministry of Interior.
Alejandro Castro Espín is a colonel at the Ministry of Interior.

HAVANA TIMES – Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB, for its Russian initials) and Cuba’s Commission on National Security and Defense on Wednesday (May 14) signed a memorandum of cooperation in Moscow and agreed to create a joint working group on national security.
Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, head of the FSB, signed for the Russian Federation.

Alejandro Castro Espín, President Raúl Castro’s son, signed for Cuba; Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, head of the FSB, signed for the Russian Federation.

“The situation in the world is changing rapidly, it is very dynamic. That’s why we need to be able to respond to it quickly,” Patrushev said.

Castro Espín said that “Russia and Cuba need an effective cooperation mechanism to respond to the important issues. In our memorandum, we identified priorities for cooperation, to ensure the safety of both our nations.”

Castro Espín, 49, is a colonel in the Cuban Interior Ministry and adviser to President Castro.

Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, head of the FSB, signed for the Russian Federation.
Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, head of the FSB, signed for the Russian Federation.

Patrushev, 63, a former intelligence officer who in the 1970s worked with now-President Vladimir Putin in the KGB (the former Soviet secret service), is said to be a leading force in the growing rapprochement between Russia and Cuba. The FSB is the successor of the KGB.

Castro Espín arrived in Moscow on Tuesday and met immediately with the leadership of the FSB, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

Most likely, he met with Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, chairman of the Investigative Committee, who visited Havana in late March for talks with Interior Minister Gen. Abelardo Colomé Ibarra.

As reported at the time in Progreso Weekly, Bastrykin, as former First Deputy Prosecutor General, and, since 2011, chairman of an agency that specializes in the investigation and prosecution of enemies of the state, was in Cuba to lend his expertise to the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, which oversees domestic security.

11 thoughts on “Cuba Looks to Russia for Security

  • You wrote, “The Cuban government today is but a shadow of the regime it once was with Fidel at the helm.”

    What exactly has changed? Swapping Raul for Fidel has not made much of a difference. The harassment & arrest of dissidents continues, with over 900 political arrests arrested in April alone. There is still no freedom of speech, no freedom of association, no labour rights, workers still have no right to strike or collective bargaining. The Cuban government still does not respect the human rights of the Cuban people.

    Please be specific and list all the amazing changes which have improved the lives of ordinary Cubans. I really don’t see these changes.

    You wrote, “there must be unilateral agreement and compromise on both sides.”

    Um, I think you mean, “there must be bilateral agreement.” Unilateral means one-side, as opposed to both sides.

    You wrote, “I expect the Cuban government to agree to a schedule for transitional changes and concessions to be implemented as part of a negociated settlement for normalizing relations.”

    Really? You expect this based on what comments from the Cuban government? Raul Castro has stated clearly that “there will be no political reforms”. Period. That emphatic position seems to rule out and possible transition or concessions.

    The Castro regime does not want a negotiated agreement with the US. The want the embargo lifted without condition. They want US corporations to invest in Cuba under terms dictated by Havana. They want their grip on power to continue. They know that any concession to democracy and freedom for the Cuban people will undermine their power and end their rule faster than any US gunboat diplomacy will.

  • Moses, I feel that your opinion of the Cuban government is firmly entrenched in the past, and as such, unnecessary biased. Your position parallels that of your government’s… you’re both still stuck in the ’60’s. The Cuban government today is but a shadow of the regime it once was with Fidel at the helm. This is not to say that there isn’t still room for much more improvement. But I feel that further improvement will come much more easily and expeditiously, to the mutual benefit of all, when relations are first normalized. And let’s be clear…to completely normalize relations, I expect the Cuban government to agree to a schedule for transitional changes and concessions to be implemented as part of a negociated settlement for normalizing relations. The 5 decade long chicken or the egg stalemate must end. I think more can be accomplished through negociation and diplomacy today than could ever be accomplished by gun-boat diplomacy and saber-rattling yesterday. But the US government must stop dictating the terms…there must be unilateral agreement and compromise on both sides. All of the things that are on your wish list (and mine) for the Cuban people can be factored in. But the US government must accept that some changes will take more time to transition. I think it’s more important to formalize agreement for change…not that it must happen immediately, which has always been the position of the US government, and you too, unfortunately.

  • Keep in mind Terry, in the context of the period at that time, the US was RESPONDING to Fidel Castro taking US property. He went further to align himself with the Soviet sphere and still further in his anti-US rhetoric. You seem to have a ‘pollyanish’ view of this tyrannical regime which has tortured, murdered and imprisoned people who have simply disagreed with it. To “simply normalize relations” with a government that continues to deny basic freedom of expression and works with nearly every rogue regime in the world to undermine freedom as you and I currently enjoy would be counter to the advance of freedom in the world. Sending weapons to North Korea does not make the world a safer place. I support normal relations with Cuba, but I also support free speech and open multiparty elections as well. When Cuba moves toward more democracy, then and only then should the US move toward normalizing relations.

  • Since his father, Raúl Castro, came to power, Alejandro Castro Espin has become personal assistant to the president and been involved in various political events and official visits, which has increased speculation about the possibility that he is Castro’s successor as head of the Cuban regime.

    If so, the Castro regime will be clearly seen as a hereditary reign. And those Castro apologists who clamour for the embargo to be lifted can forget about it. That won’t happen so long as a Castro rules the island kingdom of Castrogonia.

  • By your definition, the Cuban people have therefore been “surviving” your government’s attempts to over-throw their government and their revolution. Had your government not ignored, isolated, and handicapped the Cuban government 50 + years ago, it would be interesting to know how things might have turned out differently for the Cuban people. It would be interesting to know how things could be different today…if your government would simply normalize relations with Cuba and take a more interactive approach to help lead the Cuban government to the promised land.

  • Have you been to Cuba? First of all, my wife was a teenager in Guantanamo during the Special Period. Cubans were forced to be “brave”. What other choice did they have? Cuba is an island. While the Castros ate steaks, my wife remembers bread and cooking oil sandwiches. While the Castros had new shoes, my father-in-law put newspaper in his shoes. Do you have any idea how many Cubans perished at sea in the Florida Straits trying to escape all that “bravery” during that period? I have a Jewish neighbor whose father was a Holocaust survivor. He refused to accept the label brave. He preferred “survivor”. He had no choice in the matter and had the opportunity to escape presented itself, he would have certainly tried. Are African-Americans brave because we lived through slavery. I disagree with your platitudes about the Cuban people based upon the Special Period.

  • What are the Russians and the Cuban sharing? O should I ask what
    are the Russian Oligarchies sharing with the Cuban communist? A new version of the Louder Centre may reopen one day and the Russian will have real time
    information about America. Cuba may go backward at any minute.

    The biggest thing that has happened in Cuba in the last 50 years has been the collapse of the Soviet Union, that’s why the communist allowed
    religion in Cuba to be practiced and that’s how the humiliating living
    condition of depending on a government permit to do anything you do in your
    life is now a bit softer.

    I keep thinking that people should be more honest and find out what their motivations are. Some of them make comments here because they hate
    their government (usa). They don’t love Cuba; they are fighting against the Americans,not in favour of Cuba.

    A good motive is to fight for the need of Cubans to speak freely, a right that was stolen from an entire generation of cuban by the Communist Party and if there is no a fight, it will be stolen from the future generations. It is an intrinsic part
    of the communist ideology.

    Many countries like Germany, Poland, Hungry, Estonia, and Russia have moved on, they have problems as any other country but they have discovered something they now don’t want to lose again, freedom to speak. Cuba
    has the right to move on.

    But unfortunately some people don’t care about it and keep injecting
    venom into Cuba politics. If they are honest and they think freedom of speech
    is not freedom they can easily try and stop posting here for say 6 months and
    feel what it means not being able to speak their mind. But I doubt they can
    hold on for so long, I am pretty sure they will give away their meal today
    before stop talking.

  • Why should any decision made by a sovereign country, has to be deemed by some posters, as seeking protection or security from a powerful nation?

    As much as I am against ALL militaristic activities, I would not question Cuba’s prerogative to enter into any type of agreement with Russia, Costa Rica or Bangladesh, without having to be pre-approved by any nation, as if Cuba was still under the Platt Ammendment.

    The puppet government of Afghanistan have expressed openly and through diplomatic channels, that they want no US military on their soil and yet, we have placed every possible pressures, deadlines, threats and bad mouthed president Karzai, to have him give into our whims or suffer some timely accident.

    Will any of our faithful posters be honest enough to remember, that when Cuba was nearly on its knee after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it lost half of its trading partners, raw material, spare parts, political relations and the country was facing hunger, sickness and death, was precisely when that nation and its leaders shone brighter, stood taller and face with heroism the greatest danger, misery and pains ALONE, without ever pleading for help or asking for forgiveness from the most vindictive and wicked measures against that country.

    As much as some may dislike Cuba, its leaders, its policies and politics, honest people must have to accept and respect, that there are not many other countries in the world, who had the guts to confront with its morals, principle and courage, the wicked Torricelli Bill, Helms Burton Act and numerous acts of cowardice, when they saw their foe was down and hoped to give Cuba the final blow.

    A lack of understanding of the Cuban people, their history and patriotism, have led the United States to err and fail with Cuba since Polk in 1840. Today, Cuba has hopes for the world and looks towards a brighter tomorrow, while many neglected areas of our country, Puerto Rico, SW Chicago, Parramore, Overtown, our schools, veterans abandoned and left on their own, are clamoring for the same help we chose to invest in Zunzuneo, Radio Marti, Cashmere sweaters and Godiva Chocolate in south Florida.

  • Often you see comments here in support of the Cuban government.
    Those who make those comments are motivated only by their opposition to their
    own government (USA) policy against Cuba. This is very different from caring
    about Cuba moving forward.

    One day they may realize they are also supporting the Russian against their country.

  • The initiative of Bastrykin visiting Cuba in March is indicative of the Putin policy of creating mischief for NATO. As was the case with Kruschev and the nuclear warheads, Cuba is a willing pawn. Moses Patterson is correct about the ‘siege mentality’ being used to advantage by the Castro regime, almost daily references on Cuban TV to the “blockade” enforce the anti-US emotions fomended by the regime.. Lifting the embargo would provide a serious challenge for the Castros.

  • In the midst of the crisis in the Ukraine, while the US and Europe are in direct opposition to Russian imperialist actions, it seems untimely for the Castros to engage in diplomatic ‘footsies’ with the Russians. The Castros claim to want to negotiate an end to the EU Common Position in addition to the lifting of the US embargo. But instead the Castros engage in a no-win strategy to beef up security with the Russians. This is further proof that the Castros are being disingenuous regarding their professed claims for the easing of tensions with the US and the EU. What it seems the Castros really want is an excuse to stay on terrorism lists and at loggerheads with the US/EU to justify the maintenance of the ‘siege mentality’ that sustains their abuse of human rights in Cuba.

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