HAVANA TIMES — According to recent reports, Cuba and Russia have entered into an agreement for cooperation in security matters. The agreement was signed by Colonel Castro Espin, from Cuba’s National Security and Defense Commission, and N.P. Patrushev, from the Security Council of the Russian Federation,
The publication of the instrument suggests that the parties are interested in making other governments aware of the agreement, making clear that Russia again seeks to prowl about at the very “footsteps” of the United States and that the Cuban government is willing to take part in this strategy.
This geopolitical move by Moscow aims to deliver a message to the United States: that its current and future interventions in the Ukraine could meet with a response from a nearby territory. It hints at an eventual restaging of the Cold War situation, with different political tonalities.
What’s not very clear is what the Cuban government and people stand to gain from becoming involved in the US-Russia conflict, which is no longer the confrontation between the leader of imperialism and world “socialism.” If we assess the situation from the point of view of the economies of these two countries, we can only conclude it is a confrontation between imperialist powers.
This article aims to tackle this issue.
Given our experiences with the Russians and the consequences of our previous and very close ties to them, this public commitment could well prove a dangerous strategy for our hemispheric relations and our economy.
One of the aspects of this agreement which places Cuba’s national interests at risk is clearly and precisely the fact that it is being signed at a time of conflict, stemming from the difficulties that have arisen between Russia and the West over the Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and, eventually, the Donetsk region by Russia. Whether we like it or not, this situation makes us a Russian pawn in the eyes of the West (and the United States particularly), and pawns are dispensable pieces.
We may deny that we are a “Russian satellite” again and again, but this security agreement can be interpreted as such (I stress the word “interpreted”) by our northern neighbor because of recent history, when we acted as a base for Soviet nuclear missiles and submarines and for espionage activities against the United States, becoming an objective threat to the national security of the United States.
On the other hand, this document – whose clauses have not been made public – is being signed at a time when the Cuban government is seeking a rapprochement with the European Community and the lifting of the US blockade in order to bolster foreign investment and lift the Mariel mega-project off the ground. This, quite clearly, is counterproductive.
We can also safely assume that Brazil, which has invested billions of dollars in Cuba in anticipation of improved relations between the United States and the island, cannot be very happy with this new agreement with Russia, a move that could further delay the eventual lifting of the blockade/embargo.
I doubt the strategists of Raul Castro’s government haven’t contemplated these aspects of the situation and are unaware of the consequences of repeating past mistakes. They may be looking for international aid alternatives, having become convinced that arriving at an understanding with the European Community and negotiating the lifting of the US blockade is impossible, since they are unwilling to budge before calls for human rights in Cuba.
This would amount to acknowledging a serious error in political judgment that has severe economic consequences: believing that the United States would lift the blockade and authorize investment on the island without first seeing fundamental changes in its domestic policies. This is something we have been suggesting for a long time, even before the Mariel project began operations.
One could also think of this agreement as a means for Cuba to assume a more “solid” position in any negotiation aimed at the lifting of the blockade and at applying pressures in this direction, but I doubt it will be seen in this light by the United States. It is more likely for Obama to feel more pressure from those interested in stepping up the embargo and in having him give up on the idea of “updating” Cuba policy.
We are constantly demanding the lifting of the blockade, and now we throw everything to the fire.
I wonder what the more pragmatic types within the Cuban government and army, interested in a form of capitalist development based on US investment (the kind an eventual relaxation or lifting of US sanctions would allow), think about all of this.
In this connection, the presence of Raul Castro’s son, who “signed” the agreement, is probably aimed at delivering a clear message to all internal circles, letting them know this move is fully in keeping with the interests of the top leadership and, as such, no one should question it.
I have addressed the issue elsewhere: national security matters must be addressed globally, considered not only in the short term, but in the mid and long terms as well. In addition to the military and security dimensions of such agreements, diplomatic factors, international economic and political relations, the satisfaction of citizens with domestic economic and social policies, the democratic participation of citizens and other factors must be taken into account.
Once again, steps that are of huge importance for everyone are being taken without consulting the population.
Today’s Russia has nothing to do with the former Soviet Union. We could also point out that the Cuban government is very different from that of the 1960s that sought to establish socialism.
Russia is yet another economic, political and military giant of the imperialist age. Today, Cuba is a stray electron of a failed “State socialism”, in search of international support.
Perhaps the explanation is as simple as the fact that this stray electron, in need of significant economic aid, cannot find any other nucleus to orbit around than that afforded by its former ally, today pitted against its “age-old enemy”. Perhaps Cuba is simply sticking to the old maxim that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
One thing is clear: Russian oil could prove an alternative to Venezuela, today saddled by political problems.
Russia would again have to pay a high price for supporting its former Caribbean ally. It isn’t clear how much Cuba would have to pay.
This security agreement with Russia and the tightening of the blockade by the United States and other reprisals against our country would naturally entail serious consequences and could result in the increased repression of Cuba’s opposition, a paralysis of the slow “reform” process and more suffering for the Cuban people in general.
In my humble opinion, this strategy may serve the interests of the political and military elite, which seeks to prolong its full control over the country’s politics and economy, but it involves many dangers and eventual complications for the future of the Cuban nation.