Cuba: Small Country, Big Name

Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES, 10 feb. — It’s incredible that a country as small as Cuba — even tinier than Uruguay — can create such a racket in the world.  Be it in politics, medicine or culture, or simply for its cigars, the name of the island always appears.

I went to a cinema in Madrid to see a crime movie on the Vatican and there appeared parishioners hosting a Cuban flag; I got into a taxi in Mexico and the driver was listening to Celia Cruz; I traveled to Montevideo and twenty-year-olds were asking me about Silvio Rodriguez.

Every year UN diplomats discuss two motions concerning Cuba: one condemning it for its violation of human rights and the other one condemning the United States for the economic embargo it has maintained against the island for a half century.

Around the Third World — from Haiti to Pakistan — governments express their thanks for the medical assistance that arrives from the island, while the developed nations seem resolved to turn Cuban dissidents into the most decorated opponents in the universe.

Wikileaks & the Anna Ardin Connection

Now exploding is the case of Wikileaks and several secret cables making reference to Cuba.  However, that’s not the sole link to Havana.  Anna Ardin, the Swede who is accusing Julian Assange of rape, appears to have worked for some Cuban dissident faction.

The first news of this strange relationship was confused because the articles about it were plagued with errors.  However, dissident sources confirmed to me that Ardin supported the opposition in Cuba for years.

“She headed a group of intelligent young social-democrats that served as the contact between us and the Swedish party,” admitted Manuel Cuesta, a leader of the Arco Progresista. He added that this political connection lasted from 2004 to 2006.

The activities of the Swede in Cuba had little to do with those of a normal tourist.  The opposition leader assured that she “advised us on how to form a political party, we exchanged bibliographies and her group gave us a minimal amount of economic assistance.”

During those years, Anna’s group “maintained economic communication with the magazine Consenso” and overseas they created “the Cuba-Europe Association in Progress to support, circulate and explain our positions,” Cuesta explained.

It seems everything was running along fine until she tried to “make us pay the cost” for her services.  According to the opponent, “she tried to influence us too forcefully on how we should lead Arco Progresista. Our reluctance generated certain uneasiness on her part.”

Manuel Cuesta described her as a very beautiful woman, “Self-centered, having a strong personality, committed, intelligent and very Eurocentric.  Her principal virtue is her determination and her worst defect is her Eurocentric arrogance.”

He explained to us that in 2006 Anna made a surprising political shift: “She dropped out of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and adopted the Social Christian position.  This is how she probably established some tie with Carlos Alberto Montaner.”

Arco Progresista has few certainties but many suspicions.  Manuel told us that all of this “enters into an intriguing realm of political jockeying, and it amazes me a little.  We’re thinking back so we can piece things together, because it’s evident that there’s something strange in all this.”

Strange or not what is certain is that currently Julian Assange is being charged by Swedish authorities so that he can be tried for Anna’s rape, a process that takes place at the time of the revelations in the secret US cables provided by Wikileaks.

In fact there are many coincidences, so many that even members of the Cuban opposition who worked with her are filled with doubts.  It will be necessary to wait and see if Wikileaks or someone else someday reveals everything behind the scenes.

This story is only one example that allows me to admit that I don’t know how this small island and its 12 million residents always manage to be in the limelight, concentrating the focus of world attention.

Things get to really unusual degrees when for half a century all candidates for the presidency of the greatest economic and military power in human history are obligated to include the Cuba issue in their electoral platforms.

I tell my Cuban friends that their country and the USA are the only countries about which everybody has an opinion.  But to them this appears the most logical; they’re convinced that they are an important nation inhabited by very special people – and with good reason.

An authorized Havana Times translation from the original in Spanish published by BBC Mundo.

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