Invading Cuba

Photo: Alejandro Taquechel

By Maria A. Cabrera Arus  (El Estornudo)

HAVANA TIMES – On September 25th, the Cuban government exchanged prison time, which artist Hamlet Lavastida had been suffering, for exile. He was in prison for over 90 days. He landed in Havana on June 22nd, coming from Berlin, where he had traveled for an artist residency. Upon his arrival, Lavastida was arrested by State Security, who locked him up in the Villa Marista dungeon, where he stayed in isolation mostly, until September 20th.  On this day, he was transferred to a house in an unknown location, waiting for the final details of his exile to be worked out.

Saying Lavastida was released is a euphemism, at best. In reality, his time in prison was commuted for another form of punishment. On September 25th, when he crossed the threshold of the house where he had been held captive the last four days he was in Cuba, Lavastida didn’t emerge a free man: he couldn’t decide where he was going or who he could communicate with, and it’s very possible – judging by his partner’s testimony, poet Katherine Bisquet – that he wasn’t even carrying his ID documents.

Still in State Security custody, Lavastida was taken on a sad trip in reverse to the same airport where he was handcuffed, three months earlier. At the airport, he was put on a plane heading towards Poland on a trip that would not have a return date, he was warned. Bisquet was banished with him.

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Hamlet Lavastida and Katherine Bisquet are two of the last names on a long list – which we must reconstruct for historic memory – of Cuban citizens who challenge the status quo and have had to pay for their public expression of dissent with exile, whether that’s being kicked out of the country, like Lavastida and Bisquet, or in the case of journalist Karla Perez, never being allowed to return to the island. This list is a safeguard for those in power, the status quo.

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On July 11th, and the days that followed, Cuban political history recorded unprecedented events. For the first time in at least six decades, a series of citizen-led protests took place across the country, which were then joined by political protests of Cuban emigres in different cities in the US, Latin America and Europe.

Protestors at many of the demonstrations held in the US, where most of the Cuban diaspora live, called for Cuba to be invaded. According to them, this was – and is – the swiftest way to achieve a long-awaited change in the country’s government, which they left for political reasons, and many are afraid to return to.

“In-va-sion” was shouted in chorus down Bergenline Avenue and in front of the Mayor’s Office in West New York city. Louder cries were heard in Washington D.C., in the White House’s surroundings, down some of the capital city’s avenues and in front of the Cuban Embassy.

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No US administration in modern history – let’s say in the past 20 years – has shown any interest in invading Cuba. It’s hard to find in the grand scheme of global politics, a historic, strategic or even ethical reason to invade Cuba. However, this isn’t the case of a symbolic “invasion” of emigres.

I’m talking about returning and not disembarking. About passports and birth rights as weapons, and not grenades or bullets. About commercial flights full of emigres and humanitarian fleets, and not armies. We need to give Cuba back its potential for change, which entails the public expression of dissent with the status quo, who the ruling elite have managed to save themselves from this threat, for six decades, seeing it as a safeguard to stay in and consolidate their power. I’m talking about Havana airport as the Bastille.

Invading Cuba and destroying the list of banished citizens so that Hamlet Lavastida and so many others, can finally cross over the threshold towards freedom.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.


13 thoughts on “Invading Cuba

  • October 11, 2021 at 4:43 pm
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    dani, you are obviously confused and think that ratifying an agreement necessitates the parties sitting down at a table and signing documents. Not so! The Soviet Union officially sanctioned removal of its nuclear weapons from Cuba. The US officially sanctioned the removal of its nuclear weapons from Turkey. By so doing, they ratified their agreement made by their respective heads of state. Part of that agreement was that the US would not make a military invasion of Cuba.
    Obviously you do not accept that Russia controlled the so-called Soviet Union and that the other dozen states were but ciphers, although both Russia and the UN did.
    Your statement that “NATO encroached ever further eastwards” to describe countries liberated from Russian control deciding that they would join a defensive alliance to prevent a repetition of previous experience, is somewhat tendentious.
    Perhaps we can end the discussion by the equivalent of what you described as “a gentleman’s agreement” between the USSR and the USA – a thought which had never occurred to me, or indeed the world at large. Some gentlemen!

  • October 10, 2021 at 5:19 pm
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    Carlyle. Kennedy and Kruschev came to a kind of gentleman’s agreement of which Turkey and possibly Italy were a secret. So secret we don’t even know today for sure whether Italy was included or not. When the missiles started to be removed it was assumed that there was some agreement involved but it was never ratified by the two governments and so was never binding as you maintain.

    You seem to think that the whole of the Soviet Union was Russia which it wasn’t. For example, Kruschev for most of his career was in Ukraine. Shevardnadze was Georgian. The Soviet Union was a federation of a number of republics Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. Of course, Russia dominated that federation. But the two were not equivalent.

    I’ll move towards you on your point that Russia inherited some of the rights and obligations of the former Soviet Union including Russia getting the seat on the security council. However, with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact most of that would be meaningless. Soviet missiles in eastern Europe had to go and Nato encroached ever further eastwards. How do you explain that if you think nothing changed since Soviet times.

    So to get back to Cuba. They were protected against invasion not so much by an agreement with the Soviet Union but by the balance of power during the cold war. Once that changed that assurance was meaningless. Russia was not going to retaliate or do anything if the US invaded. Like I originally said since the agreement for what it was worth was not between the US and Cuba it was unenforceable once the cold war was over.

  • October 9, 2021 at 10:35 pm
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    An addendum for dani:

    “The Russian Federation assumed the Soviet Unions rights and obligations and is recognized as its continued legal personality in world affairs.”

  • October 9, 2021 at 1:29 pm
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    dani, there is no need to display your ignorance. Firstly in the agreement between Khrushchev acting on behalf of Russia, and Kennedy acting on behalf of the US, Cuba, much to the expressed frustration of Fidel Castro, was not consulted. Russia then removed its nuclear weapons from Cuba, and the US removed its nuclear weapons from Turkey, thereby ratifying their agreement. Thirdly, the Soviet Union was a member of the UN Security Council and subsequently Russia was recognized internationally by the UN as synonymous, hence it has that seat on the Security Council.
    May I also remind you that Khrushchev remonstrated with Fidel Castro following his recommendation that there be an initial nuclear strike upon the US, pointing out that it would inevitably start a third world war.

  • October 7, 2021 at 6:10 pm
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    Carlyle you are talking rubbish. The agreement was never ratified as I said. Both sides began to remove the weapons so there was an assumption of an agreement. Cuba never agreed or signed anything and it was never binding. The Soviet Union was not Russia and Russia wasn’t the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was a union of a number of republics or which Russia was one. Similar to the United Kingdom. Once the Soviet Union broke up there was no agreement in the same way as treaties with East Germany became null and void.

  • October 7, 2021 at 12:16 pm
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    dani: The nuclear weapons in Cuba were Russian (Soviet). Russia as a state, did not cease being a country when forming the USSR. By Khrushchev removing the Russian nuclear weapons from Cuba, and Kennedy removing the US nuclear weapons from Turkey, they gave formal consent to their agreement.

  • October 6, 2021 at 8:26 pm
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    The agreement between Kennedy and Kruschev was never ratified so wasn’t binding. As it was with the Soviet Union which doesn’t exist anymore it is defunct.

    I tend to agree with Moses and Olga that if the Cubans hate their government so much then it is up to them to make a stand. In the UK shortly after the MPs expenses scandal, many English cities were burnt to the ground by angry citizens.

  • October 6, 2021 at 4:19 pm
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    Of the comments thus far, the one from Mr MacD is the only one which makes any sense whatsoever.
    However I would suggest that one should always be wary of ‘promises’ made by those at the helm in the USA.
    These bozos have twice let down the people of Afghanistan regarding promises that have been made. A case of same broken promises – different decade.
    The USA has not invaded Cuba because Cuban defences are so very well entrenched.
    The USA would be ultimately successful in any such invasion if it were allowed to reach a conclusion. Without any shadow of a doubt whatsoever.
    But due to Cuban defences being so well entrenched, the bloodshed and slaughter involved would make whichsoever White House incumbent look like a fool. Or should I say, look like even more of a fool than these incumbents normally look.
    The quantity of body bags filled with the remains of tragically squandered prime U.S. military personnel being shipped back stateside during such a struggle would make any White House incumbent even more unpopular than these incumbents normally are.
    Furthermore such an invasion would only hasten the inevitable rise of China to the number one hotspot as the world’s leading power. It would quite possibly be the key catalyst which tips the balance.
    I would suggest that the USA hasn’t initiated an invasion of Cuba since the lame assed catastrophe at Playa Giron due to realpolitik rather than any track record of keeping it’s own two-bit promises.

  • October 5, 2021 at 5:37 pm
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    The comment made by Olgasintamales is spot on. Until Cubans themselves care enough to “sit in the front of the bus” or “at the lunch counter” to the point of arrest, non-Cubans won’t enter the fray.

  • October 5, 2021 at 1:30 pm
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    Aseres if we Cubans just keep running away why anyone sacrifice their soldiers for us? We are to blame for the situation in Cuba – we never stood up to Castro and all his followers. All we produce are jineteras and immigrants! Why should the world care if we have not?

  • October 5, 2021 at 9:51 am
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    That is precisely the point. There won’t be a military invasion. There shouldn’t be one. But the exiles can and should reclaim their rights to return to, live in, travel to, and enjoy the same rights in Cuba that any other national has.

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  • October 4, 2021 at 11:30 am
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    An important part of the agreement reached between President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev to remove the Soviet nuclear weapons from Cuba, was that the US would not take military action against Cuba. Another part was the removal of US nuclear weapons from Turkey. The agreement was binding. In consequence, the US will not invade Cuba. Wishful thinking by Cuban emigres will not change that.

    There is an assumption by many, that the Cuban population at large would welcome an invasion by the US. That is a false belief. Whereas a substantial proportion of the Cuban population is tired and weary of communist dictate, regulations and repression, they do not seek a return of American domination. The awful history of US meddling in Cuba, from 1823 onwards, is etched into the population, and further involvement would be detrimental to the national interest.

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