Cuba–US Relations: Swimming Miles Only to Die at the Shore

Pedro Campos

Cuba's top leaders watch Thursday's May Day Parade from the Jose Martí Memorial in Havana.
Cuba’s top leaders watch Thursday’s May Day Parade from the Jose Martí Memorial in Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — The main leaders of the guerrilla group that capitalized on the people’s victory over Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship in Cuba in the first days of 1959, had evinced their anti-imperialist and anti-American postures at the very beginning of the revolution and even during some episodes of the armed struggle in the Sierra Maestra.

Such postures had two notable precursors. In a letter to guerrilla member Celia Sanchez dated June 5, 1958, Fidel Castro wrote:

“When I saw the rockets launched against Mario’s house, I swore I would make the Americans pay dearly for what they are doing. When this war is over, a much longer and larger war will begin for me: the war I am going to wage against them. I now realize that is going to be my true destiny.”

On June 22, 1958, Comandante Raul Castro, head of the 2nd Frank Pais Front, issued Order No. 30 and set in motion the Anti-Aircraft Operation, which responded to the support the Guantanamo Naval Base had offered Batista’s air force during the bombing of rebel positions with the detention of 50 US citizens.

The confrontation between the government of the Castro brothers and different US administrations over the past 50 years is an issue that merits a multi-volume study.

We could mention moments as tense as the Bay of Pigs invasion, the support the US government offered the counterrevolutionary uprisings in the Escambray mountains, the elimination of the Cuban sugar quota in the US market, the intervention of US companies in Cuba, the many attempts to assassinate Cuban leaders (with the participation of US intelligence agencies), the economic blockade / embargo which has lasted to our day, the Missile Crisis, when the presence of nuclear missiles in Cuba took the world to the brink of annihilation, the involvement of the CIA and other US intelligence agencies in the capture of Latin American guerilla groups supported by Cuba, particularly Che Guevera’s in Bolivia, the conflict in the South African Cone, the US invasion of Granada and the “raft-people” exodus of 1994.

One would be hard pressed to find a multilateral conflict between a superpower and a small, neighboring country as intense and widespread anywhere else in known history.

International Workers Day 2014
International Workers Day 2014

Given all of these historical (and near-legendary) episodes, who could possibly doubt the anti-imperialism and anti-annexationism of Cuban leaders?

Since the collapse of the socialist bloc, the Cuban leadership has not only changed its foreign policy of “creating two, three, many Vietnams” and combatting imperialism weapons-in-hand around the world, but has also found itself forced to take a series of “backward” steps in order to prevent the total collapse of their economy – steps which have gained more momentum since Raul Castro entered office.

To date, the Cuban government has been unable to find a stable partner that can provide the military, political and economic aid once supplied by the former Soviet Union and socialist bloc and, with its economy in something of a free-fall, has had to invent ways to try and get the United States to put aside all confrontation and its condition that the human rights of the Cuban people be respected, so that they will allow the money of their tourists and investors to come to the rescue of “Cuban socialism.”

Cuba’s military elite are setting in motion two significant “strategic operations” which entail no few dangers and nefarious consequences to change the US government’s posture vis-a-vis Cuba and undermine the tenacious blockade / embargo: the Mariel Special Development Zone and the new Foreign Investment Law.

The Mariel project aspires to provide a safe, cheap and efficient corridor for goods traveling to and from the southern United States and the rest of the world. The new Foreign Investment Law is offering US capital the opportunity to recover their former position with the Cuban economy, with plenty of benefits and very few risks.

So much anti-imperialism, so much anti-annexationism, so much death and sacrifice (I confess my wounds are still bleeding), and now, after half a century of “building socialism”, the country flings its doors open to US capital.

A popular saying comes to mind: “Swimming miles…only to die at the shore.”

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19 thoughts on “Cuba–US Relations: Swimming Miles Only to Die at the Shore

  • John, aren’t multiparty elections the best way to ensure that all different opinions can present themselves at the ballot so the voters can freely choose?
    More choice is better. Restriction choice as happens in Cuba is just a way to falsify results. The people should be able to freely express themselves at the moment it counts: the elections. In Cuba people have no voice. There is no freedom of speech and therefore no democracy.

  • Actually, the prediction was that Fidel would die before he handed any power over to anybody else, Raul included. That he did retire and give Raul the reigns of control was surprising, but as a Cuban in Havana said to me, the only change is that Raul’s speeches are shorter.

    However, I do agree with you that Fidel does not concern himself with the day-to-day business. And it is clear that Raul has taken new directions in policy which run against some aspects of Fidelismo. However, the fundamental philosophy remains the same. We can be sure that Raul talks regularly with his big brother and would not do anything Fidel overtly disagreed with. Fidel is retired, but Raul still needs the prestige of his brother to maintain Party unity around his reforms. Raul is in charge, but Fidel provides the moral authority.

  • Dear W. Teague. You do not seem to know the proposals of the movement for a Participatory and Democratic Socialism. You can search through the Internet. Here are the main ones. 1-Four theses on the current problem of Cuba, the working reaction, government policy and the solution. 2-15 Motions to revitalize socialism in Cuba. 3 – ‘Urge to move towards the Cuban Revolution the working and social self-management to ensure its historical continuity. “4-Cuba needs participatory and democratic socialism. Program proposals. 5-Proposals for the advance to socialism in Cuba, contributed to the Sixth Congress of the PCC

  • Do you seriously believe the US will achieve the total automation of the workplace and near total unemployment in 15 years time? Even if that were technically possible, and it isn’t, have you considered the astronomical level if capital incesemt required to manufacture that many robots?

    Let’s hope there will always be a job for an endlessly amusing fanatic like you, John. No robot or AI computer could ever come up with the hilarious drivel you post. LOL! Thanks for the chuckles!

  • John, you are stuck in dualist thinking. there are more systems than the US democracy and Cuba’s Stalinist dictatorship. There is no reason why Cuba could not have a functioning multiparty system with a mixed economy and a working social security system.
    You irrational love of the Castro system and its resulting hatred for the US (or vice versa) seems to completely cloud your perception.

  • Fidel is functional enough to scare people: he breathes and can call someone. His real role is clear from the foreign dignitaries he receives. A non-entity would not have that role.
    Fidel is no “scapegoat” for anything. his brothers has been part and parcel of the crimes of the regime. General del Pino for example stated that the OK to shoot down the two unarmed planes of BTTR must have come from Raul.
    The Castros are indeed brutal killers. Genocide Watch agrees and incidents like the sinking of the “13 de Marzo” confirm it.
    I am not just stating the obvious.

  • You lost me (and probably everyone else) when you said the US will collapse in less than 15 years. What a wacko!!

  • If you define democracy as a multi-party election, perhaps you had best check out the U.S. electoral system .
    In the U.S both parties’ campaigns are financed by the very wealthy whose purposes they serve. This multi-party bullshit is just that. It is no guarantee of any sort of democracy when money owns the major parties.
    No party is far better than many parties because we then get to vote for individuals who suit our way of thinking.
    And yes … for reasons dealing with the near complete automation of the workplace, the U.S. economic system will collapse because of the resulting near-total unemployment.
    This in less than 15 years which Cuba can certainly survive until , short of an outright U.S. invasion.
    That you wish for Cubans to decide for themselves is put to the lie because of your support for and urging of the extension of the U.S. economic war on the population which was put in place specifically to make the Cuban people do what the U.S. government wants them to do.
    You want a bourgeois multi-party electoral system AND capitalism visited upon the people of Cuba but know it’s politically incorrect to say so .
    We can , however, read quite clearly between the lines.
    and we have gone over your personal preference for totalitarian systems before and know quite well where you stand.

  • Have YOU seen Fidel lately ?????
    He is barely functional and certainly not up to the day to day grind that is top leadership role.
    I understand your need for a scapegoat, a bogeyman on whom to blame the economic straits in which Cuba finds itself but you will not be taken seriously on any points of yours if you persist in insisting that Fidel is still actively involved in governing.
    Besides , aren’t the Castros brutal killers ?
    Wouldn’t Raul have Fidel conveniently fall down some stairs if the doddering Fidel became any sort of problem ?
    You can’t have it both ways.

  • I agree with Griffin. That is the essence of my next article as written.

  • Cuba has not flung it’s doors open to US capital and there will be no flood of US capital so long as the current regime is in power. The barrier that prevents the US government from allowing Americans to invest in Cuba is not economic, but political. A modern port in Mariel and tax breaks for foreign corporations don’t change anything.

    The only thing which will move the US to lift the embargo is for the Cuba government to make real and permanent political changes. Raul has ruled that out. Therefore, there will be no US capital going to Cuba.

  • The Cuban situation is very complicated. Raul can not do everything he wants , nor is it known what exactly Raul wants. Their expressions are unclear, but their actions, their decrees say more than words. The call to update old economic model enabled distribute land to new and old
    owners, enabled other forms of self-employment and is organizing cooperatives from state regulations ; but the decrees and laws on these forms of production, called non-state. were born full of bureaucratic constraints and uncorrected centralized and monopolized state on the internal and external market environment statist . However,
    with the Special Area Development Mariel and the new foreign investment law is opening all doors and giving all facilities to international capital, especially trying to attract American. All without making changes towards democratization of the political system . Draw your own conclusions.

  • John, everybody knows that Fidel remains the real power behind the throne. Every Cuban leader looks over his shoulder to make sure he hasn’t angered the back seat driver.
    Fidel will have to die before Raul feels free enough to go ahead with changes. those changes will not benefit the Cuban people. The army faction that now controls all power in Cuba will create a “totalitarian oligarchy” to benefit themselves.
    We all have to do what we can to stop the Cuban people being dispossessed of their future for the second time.

  • In my next article on board some of the issues touched by the commentators.

  • Pedro Campos, I am assuming you are sincerely regretting the current challenges Cuba faces and painfully pessimistic about the strategy chosen. So what would you propose? We can ignore the insane salivating of the haters who secretly look forward to their Imperial payday. But the core condition that has ruled the lives of the majority of Cubans and people everywhere has for centuries been variations of the Imperial ponzi scheme and unlike polio it hasn’t been even close to extinction. Now besides the lies of the Imperials salesman, we face and ever shortening climate change timetable. So Pedro, if you know how to reduce the odds of failure, it is time to speak up.

  • Reread my comment. I did not write that Cuba will revert to capitalism. I wrote “if the Castros were to die or just leave office entirely, there would be a possibility of some thaw”. Only Cuban can know what lies ahead once true democracy exists on the island. As student of history over the last 100 years understands how Marxist-inspired socialism has failed in every country it has been attempted. No one in their right mind should wish such a fate on the Cuban people, especially after nearly 55 years of Castro totalitarianism. But should the Cuban people choose to remain socialists after an open and multiparty election (fat chance!), that would be their sovereign right. I don’t think I have a “crowd” but if I do, I can assure you that we do not want a return to a Batista dictatorship either. What we want is for Cubans to decide for Cubans what form of government they want. By the way, you think that the US will collapse and CUBA will survive?

  • Fidel Castro retired over six years ago.
    Even President Reagan knows this,
    For years people like you have been predicting that once Fidel goes , the revolution will fall apart. He’s now politically inactive and the revolution goes on.
    Now you’re saying that MAYBE once Raul is gone, the Cubans will revert to capitalism and bourgeois democracy ( totalitarian oligarchy) overnight.
    How long do you wish to be wrong about things Cuban ?
    Cuba has survived the 54 years of the U.S. war on the island
    precisely because their socialist-style economy works .
    Cuba’s revolution will be there after the U.S. empire collapses and you take your foolish thinking to the grave.
    Pedro has the situation exactly correct IMO.
    If the leadership goes back to capitalism, it’s surrender to the U.S. objective.
    Not only that but it will be the best of all worlds for the Moses’ of the world because the present totalitarian form of government will persist right alongside the new (totalitarian) capitalist economy.
    Now if Moses’s crowd could only clone a new Batista, things would really be looking good for them.
    Get used to it.

  • The Castros must be ‘frickin out of their minds if they think the US will create any additional space for their ‘commie’ ideology to continue to exist let alone flourish on the nickels and dimes that would come their way as a result of improved relations with the US. Maybe, and only just maybe, if the Castros were to die or just leave office entirely, there would be a possibility of some thaw. More likely, the scheduling of an open and multiparty election in addition to the Castros’ departure would be the minimum to expect before Helms-Burton could be taken up on the House floor. Still, when I read articles like this one that say the Castros are banking on the lifting of the embargo as a step towards reversing the collapse of their failed regime, I shake my head and laugh. As long as the Brothers Biran are in charge, it ain’t gonna happen. According to a recent CNN poll, the Castro name among world leaders is the most ‘hated’ with Americans. No Republican elected leader and most Democrat leaders could not return to their districts after having voted for a law which would put money in the Castros’ pockets. If this is the Castro plan of salvation, this plan. like the super cow, 10 million ton sugar harvest and the glass of milk on every table, is doomed to fail.

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