Cuba and the USA: Backtracking Like Crabs?

Vicente Morin Aguado

Crab in Western Cuba. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Are Barack Obama and Raul Castro backtracking like crabs? That is one of the tacit concerns of the majority of Cubans today. The phrase alludes to the typical way in which these crustaceans move, giving the impression that they are walking backwards.

In Havana, the accusing finger is being pointed towards the Cuban president. We must bear in mind the unquestionable asymmetry between the two countries and the fact that these negotiations are a matter of life and death for the island.

Here are some comments people are making:

“Things are getting uglier in Venezuela every day. In the end, there’ll be a problem they’ll use to justify going back to square one.”

“These people are never going to negotiate with the Americans.”

“Don’t even dream of seeing changes. We’ve got the Guantanamo Naval Base, the blockade and many demands in between. It’s all going to be pure talk.”

“The Americans want democracy, political parties, freedom of the press, you’d have to be a fool to think they’re going to go for that here!”

Skepticism constrains the popular imaginary, accustomed to a kind of visceral trench mentality (to say nothing of the anti-Americanism that has been inculcated into us for more than 55 years). To make matters worse, the top leader of the revolution, Fidel Castro, recently reiterated that he is entirely suspicious as to the intentions of the powerful northern neighbor.

Will Raul Castro overcome this apparent “crab syndrome”? Will Obama catch some of this malady as well?

We have to look at this from Washington’s point of view, for the controversial presidential decision to declare Venezuela a threat to US national security has an unquestionable connection to Cuba.

Maduro is Chavez’ adoptive son and a political step-son of Fidel Castro. Cuba heavily relies on supplies from this powerful oil-producing country, tied to it through a rather fragile deal nourished by Cuba’s cheap and qualified workforce. While Chavez was able to win numerous elections thanks to his charisma, the opposition still managed to secure a considerable number of votes and even obtained two resounding “no’s” with respect to the government’s future plans.

The late Venezuelan leader managed to forge a civil-military alliance to a great extent on the basis of his military background and the popularity among the masses he achieved. His successor constantly invokes this legacy, but he won the election by a very narrow margin of votes. The internal situation is becoming more complicated every day, and it is hard to imagine he’ll be able to win another election.

Why is Obama giving the former Caracas bus driver a presidential decree that proves very convenient in terms of uniting the people against a foreign aggressor, securing the right to govern by decree and steering people’s attention away from the country’s growing internal difficulties?

Cuba may be the answer. Faced with a Republican majority in Congress, and the conservative majority in government in general (to say nothing of public opinion), the Emperor must maintain a tough-guy image: if he loosens the screws on the Castros, he has to tighten them somewhere else, and where better than in Venezuela, where Cuba’s Chavista step-sons govern?

I advance this hypothesis in light of the inexplicable contradictions in the policies of Obama, who apparently did eat crabs: on the one hand, he will soon be removing Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism (where Cuba should never have been placed). On the other, he is demonizing Maduro’s government, calling it a threat that no one can see.

Luckily, this may simply remain talk – though sanctions against Venezuela would complicate Cuba’s internal economic situation even more. It’s already been fairly complicated since the price of oil dropped to nearly half the value predicted for this year. President Maduro’s laundry-list of complaints will surely lengthen to infinity…

All the while, members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) naturally kicked up a fuss in Caracas, attacking the United States on the eve of Summit of the Americas (April 10-11), where Obama and Raul ought to shake hands, at least for diplomatic reasons, possibly with embassies reopened.

Will the “crab syndrome” deal Cubans a lousy hand?

I don’t believe it will. Slowly but surely, as the Cuban president likes to say, we will have our embassies, even if we are haunted by the specter of a declaration attacking the US government every morning in Havana.

Raul Castro is shouldering a heavy, historical burden, inherited from the obsessive intransigence of his older brother in all things having to do with the United States. He is surrounded by government officials educated with such premises. He is also called on to represent the spirit of a leader that history has declared undefeated, so he will find it impossible to change the political discourse, even when his pragmatism leads to surprising developments, such as the secret negotiations whose results everyone (and Cuba in particular) anxiously awaits.

We will continue to read the same, hackneyed phrases in Granma year after year. The Cuban revolution will continue to make its age-old demands while people on the other shore will continue to make noise over nationalized properties, dissidents who endure repression and other curtailed freedoms. We will continue to see the game of politics, a dangerous game, for crabs – those obstinate creatures – lie in wait on both shores.
Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]


10 thoughts on “Cuba and the USA: Backtracking Like Crabs?

  • Your anti-US, anti-capitalism rant reflects the time-worn hysteria of the flaccid extreme left. Help the poor, feed the masses. It sounds good on paper but in real life that mantra has always manifest totalitarianism. Anyway, what does your comment have to do with this thread?

  • Moses, do you know anything about America’s sordid history especially in Latin America? Maduro is a democratically elected leader whose only sin is to look after the interest of the poor downtrodden masses of the population by allowing all the inhabitants to eat a piece of the fruit of the land. There are those who dislike that, so they are demonizing Maduro the same way they did Chavez, Fidel, ALLende, the Sadinistas, and every leader who works in the interest of the poor. It is quite evident for even the blind person to see that America does not care one iota about the oppressed peoples of the world as they are the fierce supporters of those who oppress the poor ; that is why they support the military juntas, the Papa Docs, the Pinochets, and all the others of that ilk. Anyone who dare to challenge the might of the oligarchs will be subjected to the brutal malignment of the American press which launches a demonizing attack on that individual. America’s policy is that the poor must be kept poor and woe be unto anyone who dares to change the status quo. It was divinely ordained that America be the country to keep the poor in their place by assassinating anyone who is brave enough to uplift the status of the masses. This method is called capitalism which sucks the natural resources of a country and, like the vampire that it is, drains the blood of cheap labour, leaving the exploited workers backward, riddled with disease, uneducaled, living in Squalour,deprived of any hope of rising out ot misery.

  • Ha..ha… US is not a democracy.

  • Neither. John’s list of US “interventions” is poorly constructed and mostly incorrect.

  • False ? What has John said about the US government’s perenial propensity to intervene in the sovereign affairs of foreign governments that is untrue ?Are you disingenious or ignorant ?

  • If you can point out what part of my understanding of U.S. foreign policy history is in error, you would have made a point.
    The fact is that the U.S G. HAS made some 70 interventions into sovereign nations to overthrow, prevent democratic elections , to defeat human rights and labor movements.
    54 of these interventions are listed and all necessary details provided in “Killing Hope” both the book and website and in ” Rogue State: A Guide To the World’s Only Superpower”
    Feel free to point out where author William Blum is in error or supply your sources of information that would attempt to do so.
    My sarcasm is both on point and, because of your intransigent willful ignorance, a suitable way for communicating with such as you who deny history. .

  • I think Raul is in doubt: he is still hoping Venezuela will “turn around” and that the Putin of Russia will catch up any slack needed for the regime to survive. Raul sits on the fence. He dares not to move ahead to quickly knowing it will cost him, but he also knows he can’t wait for too long.
    DDC reported Venezuela cut subsidized exports of oil by 50%.

    Useful information:
    Venezuela recorta a la mitad el envío de petróleo a Cuba y el Caribe | Diario de Cuba –

  • Your sarcasm falls short of addressing the facts. Obama’s executive order in no way threatens the security nor the sovereignty of Venezuela. Your false retelling of US history doesn’t change that fact.

  • Yeah, sure Moses,
    Given that the U.S government has only been involved in 70 or so interventions of the sort we are now seeing in Venezuela; the demonization, the exaggerations , the lies of omission and these only since the end of WWII, ….who could possibly believe that the USG is up no good in Venezuela ( again) .?
    Oh wait , I know the answer to who would believe that the USG is up to its ears in trying to overthrow the democratically elected Maduro government.
    It’s ………anyone with any knowledge of modern history.
    Oh, did I forget to mention that Nicholas Maduro was DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED and will have to stand for reelection as is done in a DEMOCRACY.
    Oh darn, I did forget that you don’t much care for democratic systems.

  • Enough already with misstatements regarding the sanctions on INDIVIDUALS in Venezuela! Obama has made it very clear that current policies in Venezuela which will inevitably lead to a disruption in oil supplied to the Caribbean, and a decrease in drug interdiction efforts is a threat to US National security. This declaration is being used as a straw man to imply a military threat. In hindsight, Obama obviously underestimated the desperation of the Maduro regime to find a external enemy to distract the Venezuelan people from their internal problems.

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