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

  • May 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    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.

  • May 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    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.

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