The Endless USA-Cuba Dispute

By Fernando Ravsberg

1HAVANA TIMES — “The United States has no friends, only interests,” confessed John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State in the 1950s. One could add that freedom, democracy or human rights only seem important to Washington in those countries where its interests are endangered.

In 1965, the US invaded the Dominican Republic to support the military dictatorship that had overthrown the democratically elected president. Tens of thousands of US soldiers landed on the island to save the violators of democracy.

Five years later, the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger said: “I do not see why we should sit idly by, watching as a country becomes communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.” It was the green light to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende.

Later, they supported all the military dictatorships in Latin America and collaborated in the “Condor Plan”, which was the globalization of repression. They did it while blocking the participation of Cuba in the OAS for not being a democracy.

In 1965 the US invaded the Dominican Republic, to defend those who had broken democracy.
In 1965 the US invaded the Dominican Republic, to defend those who had broken democracy.

Obama visited Cuba and met with dissidents. However, he did not contact the Saudi opposition when shortly after he traveled to that country, where there is no democracy, elections or religious freedom and women are forbidden even their most basic rights.

With such double standards, relations between Cuba and the United States will be difficult. The centenary tug-of-war between the two nations will not end while Washington considers the island within its sphere of influence and Cubans insist on running their own show.

The history of conflict goes back to the “ripe fruit” policy, including independence without the presence of the mambises, and several invasions of the Marines, authorized under the Platt Amendment. Later came the organization of the Bay of Pigs invasion, support for the rebels in the Escambray Mountains and the economic embargo.

Throughout the island’s history those seeking Cuban independence have been at loggerheads with the interests of the most powerful nation. National sovereignty was forged by revolutions, the mambises first, the one in 1933 and later the one in 1959.

They have had to spend over 50 years of open confrontation, which even brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, so that a tenant of the White House would finally admit that “the United States has neither the ability nor the intention to impose changes in Cuba” .

Obama and the Saudi Prince: In Saudi Arabia the US president did not speak out in favor of democracy and human rights as it did in Cuba.
Obama and the Saudi Prince: In Saudi Arabia the US president did not speak out in favor of democracy and human rights as it did in Cuba.

This bilateral struggle has been the “norm” so academic Luis Suarez proposes “anormalizing” relations between the two countries. However, can it really be expected that the world’s leading power will not try to influence a small island located 90 miles from its shores?

Like it or not, the “normal” in this world is that such a powerful nation will always try to exert political and economic “influence” on neighboring countries, be they a messy backyard or a garden with lovely flowerbeds.

But they say in Cuba that “the drunkard thinks one thing and the shopkeeper something quite different,” so if “normal” are the hegemonic pretensions of the great power, the desire for Cubans to be independent are also “normal” and just.

Throughout history there was always a group of Cubans fighting to gain greater opportunities for independence. In some periods they were many and in others just a handful, but one must recognize that the flame never extinguished.

This spirit survived even the times when the US ambassadors complained that the governments of Cuba did not take a step without consulting them. You would think that in the future many will not accept the tutelage of the United States over the Cuban nation.

In this clash of interests it is difficult to be able to establish cordial and respectful relations. If Washington interferes in the communications of the President of Brazil and the German Head of State, why should they allow the “free will” of Cuba?

The bilateral conflict enters a phase more beneficial to Cuba if it knows how to deal with the US without losing its sovereignty.
The bilateral conflict enters a phase more beneficial to Cuba if it knows how to deal with the US without losing its sovereignty.

At the most you can hope for is a more “civilized” confrontation and that US attempts to influence politics and the economy of the island are less aggressive, and that the response of Cubans follows suit, without conditioned reactions.

US policy changed and that forces Cuba to also change its strategy. Nowadays it wouldn’t occur to a Vietnamese general to storm the US embassy because now Washington tries to influence the national economy.

Obama continues to fund dissent and expands its work to the self-employed, cooperatives and small businesses. However, when he acknowledged in Havana that the US has no right to intervene in Cuba he put in the hands of Cubans a key weapon for negotiating future conflicts.

The two countries are ending a hard phase of bilateral confrontation and enter a new one more advantageous for the Cuba. Nonetheless, the next stage will require much political ability to “de-escalate” the conflict with the US, without losing the sovereignty obtained.

40 thoughts on “The Endless USA-Cuba Dispute

  • “Stop painting Cuba as a white pure little dove.”

    When did he do this? He’s simply pointing out the illogical inconsistencies behind the US policies against Cuba.

  • This is one of the best articles written on here. Amazing.

    It’s articulated a lot of my opposition against the US embargo against Cuba and how hypocritical it is. It’s important to remember one thing: the anti-Cuba Cubans control an important amount of politics in the US. They are the biggest reason these Cold War Era policies still exist.

    In fact, some people go so far as to blame JFK’s death on these people. I couldn’t go so far as to support this theory, since it’s one of many, and there isn’t sufficient proof for any one idea. But I wouldn’t immediately discredit it as a reasonable assumption.

  • Glad to hear you are paying a visit Gordon. I’ll believe that Mariel is busy when I see it! No sign to date, lots of room for improvement.

  • There are two sides to a coin and it was somewhat guileless of Fernando Ravsberg not to mention Fidel Castro seeking to have a nuclear strike upon the USA – YOU could have been amongst those incinerated!

  • Just wait until the new Panama canal is opened this month. A great deal of new investment is headed for Mariel. I will make my 91st research trip to Cuba this week – family and I will be at the Marea Resort in Granma. It was my childrens – relative Celia Sanchez who requested this resort be built but she pasted before it was completed.

  • Read the whole of the correspondence and tell me where I’m wrong.

  • Read the links and quotes I have provided which give the context of Khrushchev’s comments and tell me where I have deviated from historic fact.

    I have read almost every book there is on Cuban history and so do know what I’m talking about. Occasionally I have been wrong but have always freely admitted it straight away. I don’t simply ignore the evidence or argue that black is white as is usual around here.

  • Is it actually in your view ‘out of context’ to quote the view of the recipient of the cable? Secondly, the Castro supported Asad invasion of Israel was more than foolish but Cubans in addition to Syrians paid the price. Not ‘would be’, was!

  • In my comments regarding Fidel Castro and Nikita Krushchev I have adhered totally to historic fact. Dani in your struggle to protect the image of Fidel Castro it is you who are deviating. In your endeavors you even consider that you are better able to define the meanings of Fidel Castro’s cable to Krushchev than Krushchev himself. I with every respect for your personal protective instincts for Fidel, think that Krushchev was accurate.
    Living part of my time in the free world, I am able to say when here, what I know and my opinions about such knowledge. You will just have to accept that despite your typically socialist wish to shut up those who despise socialism, that living in a free society, you are unable so to do. That’s the price you have to pay, but in Cuba you would be able to succeed by reporting my views and those of others to the CDR. That is obviously attractive to you.
    Your comment in response to Moses: “You should know by now that I am rarely wrong as far as facts go.” is quite priceless reeking as it does of arrogance and conceit.

  • For the 167th time, I agree that Cuba during the Batista dictatorship was no picnic. You keep harping on that. Let it go. Cuban ballet, Cuban jazz, Cuban cigars, Cuban rum, and most of all my Cuban family. All of these are among the great things produced in Cuba. But the Castro dictatorship has nearly destroyed everything good about Cuba. The good news is that time is quickly running out on the regime.

  • I continue to disagree with you. Fidel ‘feared’ an invasión was imminent. His comments reflect all but a peaceful solution.

  • Read the quotes below and the links provided. Whatever your views of Castro or Communism, it doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to make any allegation you want. There are such things as historical facts.

  • Out of context. Read the above response to Moses and the link supplied. I don’t know much about the Syria/Israel conflict, but from what you say I would agree that it was risking a nuclear war and would be very foolish.

  • If you read the history of the period the US was indeed planning to invade Cuba and had already set a date. This was going to be done on the pretext of a concocted attack by Cuba on Guantanamo. The Cuban intelligence service was very effective and had warned Fidel of this. The only thing that he was unaware of was that this plan was not cast in stone, but was one of a few possible strategies. And it is clear from the quotes I’ve already shared (read them again) that he wasn’t advocating a first strike, only in the aftermath of an invasion. Again read the excerpts – throughout he advocates a peaceful solution.

  • Dani, “facts” mean very little to those who hide behind the skirts of the U. S. government to assail Cuba — a process that started in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, picked up steam with the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in 1952, and blossomed in 1959 when the Cuban Revolution chased the Batistianos to U. S. soil. Three dates in the darkest history of the U. S. democracy are 1898, 1952 and 1959. Moses and Carlyle, of course, disagree. But those dates prove that Cuba says a lot more about the United States than it says about Cuba.

  • According to the Cuban narrative in the U. S. that has been dictated since 1959 by the Batistianos and Mafiosi booted off the island, Revolutionary Cuba has never done a single positive thing. Well, Moses, tell that to the Rockland Cancer Institute in Buffalo or the hundreds of poor Americans who received and deeply appreciate the free 6-year medical degrees they received courtesy of Cuba or…well, you get the point. I wonder, Moses, if Revolutionary Cuba cured the world of all its ills, would you agree, at least in that aspect, that the revolution was better than Batista-Mafia rule?

  • Importing from other countries to try to sell to GAESA subsidiaries is one thing, but which companies wish to establish manufacturing plants in Cuba?

  • My concern is about Cuba which is why I contribute when able, to Havana Times. I am not when writing here concerned about whether Spain has good relationships with Andorra or the differences in policies between Germany and Austria have significance for Switzerland.
    It appears to me when discussing Cuba/US relationships, that the fact that the older brother of the current President – who was appointed by that older brother when Dictator himself proposed a nuclear strike upon the US is a factor for consideration. Certainly if the position was the reverse and the President of the US had proposed a nuclear strike upon Cuba, Fernando Ravsberg would not have avoided mentioning it!

  • ‘In your cable of October 27, you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike but the start of a thermo nuclear world war.’
    Nikita Krushchev in a letter of October 30, 1962 to Fidel Castro Ruz

    Now with respect Dani, do you really believe that Nikita got it wrong?

    As regard your view that invading a country with nuclear weapons is risking initiating a nuclear war, what was Asad’s Syria doing when with military support from the Castro regime it invaded Israel on Yum Kippur? A war which fortunately they lost!
    I don’t think I got my facts wrong!

  • Not correct Dani, Fidel Castro proposed a pre-emptive nuclear strike, not a response and that is what Nikita Krushchev responded to. He fortunately belligerent though he was by nature, had sufficient intelligence to recognize what the consequences of Fidel Castro’s urging would have been. Fidel Castro was at the time aged 37 and so would have been near the peak of his intellectual abilities. His suggestion that potentially millions of American citizens be incinerated would if pursued have without doubt have initiated a world war.
    i did not agree with Nikita Krushchev about anything and having the experience of knowing the activities of the USSR in Austria from May 1945 onwards am able to discuss communism in practice in depth, meeting many people who fled from their countries to escape the enforced conditions imposed by the communist system. Similarly having my home in Cuba and having a Cuban family, I speak from experience about the Castro family regime. Yes, I am opposed to it! Yes, I think that many others who write in these pages seeking to find something beneficial in the imposition of the power and control exerted by the Castro family regime would if in full contact with the reality, share my views, which despite your admonishment I shall continue to express.
    I understand that for those who admire communist dictatorship, imposed poverty, prohibition of free speech and human rights as defined by the UN, my views are anathema. But it just so happens that I care more about the people of Cuba than the political dogma of communism.
    Does that clarify matters for you?

  • Hi Liz and welcome! The enthusiasm for achieving ‘normal relations’ with the free capitalist world lies very much with the current political regime in Cuba, not with the US. The US has been constant in seeking human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of the media and open free elections in Cuba, to which it has added access to the Internet for Cubans. It is he current government of Cuba in the form of the Castro dictatorship and the Communist Party of Cuba that is opposed to such propositions.
    Don’t be too certain about your belief that Cuba leads the world in cancer research or other health related fields. Hugo Chavez the then President of Venezuela was diagnosed having cancer when on a visit to Cuba. He was operated upon by a Cuban surgeon, who incidentally is black and whom I happen to know. I think that if you were to enquire of that surgeon who incidentally was rewarded by Chavez with the gift of a car as he only receives $40 per month in Cuba, he would love o have the facilities available at the Queen Elizabeh Hospital for Officers in London, England or those of the Mayo Clinic in the US. Why not look up cancer research on the Internet?
    Following a second operation in Cuba, Chavez was told he was terminal and returned home to die in Venezuela. But Cuba did all that it was capable of doing for him. The Doctors and medical staff are dedicated and capable although working in hospitals that are in poor condition, an exception being a clinic in Havana that is for paying foreigners only.

  • Liz , It is not just “now ” that the US has had an interest in resuming a relationship… Previous Democratic presidents have made attempts…. From Carter to Clintons… It’s just that Obama is in a unique position , while having the guts to shove his successes into the face of the Repubs.

  • Fear is no justification for tyranny. Good to hear from you John.

  • Yes, and pay close attention. Fidel was advocating for a FIRST strike because he was claiming to have knowledge of an eminent threat from the US. The claims Fidel was making to his Soviet pimps were fortunately ignored.

  • This is a well reasoned article.

    Vietnam has the same problem with China as does the Ukraine with Russia. Living close to a big and powerful country is inherently dangerous, not only from overt and covert aggression but also from unconscious economic and cultural dominance. The Republic of Ireland might wish to end the religious and political division of its territory, but must do so within a framework dominated by the diminished colonial power of England.

    Cuba will maintain tight internal control as long as it fears that only tactics not objectives have changed, an easy conviction when its international dollar use is still blocked de facto if not de jure, the embargo is maintained, uniquely hostile immigration policies are practiced, an unequal treaty denies sovereignty to part of national territory and tens of millions of dollars are appropriated for anti-government anti-system propaganda and democracy projects.

    Cuba’s tight control, including ham handed if not deliberately provocative implementation by security forces, is used to provide moral justification in Washington for continued intervention for the benefit of the oppressed Cuban people.

    The development of mutual trust is not easy, especially when the big power controls the game.

    John McAuliff

    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

  • You should know by now that I am rarely wrong as far as facts go. The full text of the Armageddon letter is here http://coldwarportfolio.weebly…. I will quote some parts. “Given the analysis of the situation and the reports which have reached us, [I] consider an attack to be almost imminent — within the next 24 to 72 hours.” “If the imperialists invade Cuba with the aim of occupying it, the dangers of their aggressive policy are so great that after such an invasion the Soviet Union must never allow circumstances in which the imperialists could carry out a nuclear first strike against it.” “The imperialists.. are preparing to invade, while at the same time blocking any possibility of negotiation, even though they understand the gravity of the problem.” “We will maintain our hopes for saving the peace until the last moment, and we are ready to contribute to this in any way we can.” Now does that sound like someone who is advocating a first strike.

    I appreciate what you are saying in your second point, but that is the nature of nuclear weapons. If the US was willing to invade a country with nuclear weapons they were risking triggering a third world war. If the US or Soviet Union were invaded they would do the same. If they didn’t then there would be no point in having them in the first place.

  • “… You are leading the world in cancer research and many health related fields, true?…”

    As a blanket statement that’s not true at all. Yes, Cuba punches above it’s weight in many fields, but don’t try to put it on a pedestal that doesn’t exist.

  • The author, like many others, shows blindness to things that do not conform to his prejudice. He points an accusing finger to USA-Saudi relationships and completely ignore Cuba- North Korea, for example. North Korea is the epitome of a bloody genocidal dictatorship in today world, and Cuba has been their ally for many years, going to the extend of violating UN rulings trying to provide weapons to the regime.

    International politics is built on the interest of a nation, not so much on moral considerations. It is as hypocritical for the US to bypass Saudi human rights violations as it was for Cuba to ally and defend the anticommunist Argentinian fascists military dictator Videla years ago.

    Stop painting Cuba as a white pure little dove. It is not.

  • That’s simply not true. But even if it were, to suggest the total annihilation of Cuba and to trigger a third world war? WTF was Castro thinking?

  • Leading the world in Cancer research? Where do you sycophants get this stuff? Not even close. Google “leading countries in cancer research”.

  • The trouble with a lot of commentators on this site is that they don’t actually read anything except comments by other people they already agree with and then repost them uncritically.

    If you read the original papers it is clear that it was in the context of an American invasion of Cuba. So the war would have already started.

    As Dan says below, why not actually comment on the article in question rather than telling the author to write something else.

  • From the opposite side of the world it is very difficult to assess and make judgement, but I would be wondering Cuba, what is it that the US want?
    From a sceptical point of view why are they so keen, after 60 years of shunning their neighbours, to resume a relationship? Cuba has so much but do you fully realize your worth? You are leading the world in cancer research and many health related fields, true?
    Don’t be sucked in by their niceties and give it away.

  • The correct quote is “The United States has no PERMANENT friends, only PERMANENT interests.” US foreign policy is not nor should it be a cookie-cutter approach. What works in Saudi Arabia may not work for Cuba and vice versa. The US intercepted buddy not “interfere” with the communications of German and Brazilian leadership. US/Cuban talks should hardly be called a “confrontation”. Cuba is in no position to confront the US. The Castros have their hands out and their pants down hoping for Obama to give as many concessions as possible before he leaves office.

  • The threat of using nuclear weapons is just as bad as actually using nuclear weapons. Do you folks realize how ridiculous that sounds? The American Right Wing can justify any military action, no matter how obscene. As Dick Cheney admitted in an interview, “I’ve never seen a war I did not like” Reminds me of a time during the Vietnam War when a reporter asked a pilot what justification he had to be dropping Napalm on Vietnamese Villages. Without a pause he responded, “Because they keep shooting at me”.

  • Little risk of old relationship re-emerging. Much has changed in last 100 years.

  • That’s a great photo of the kid starring out the window towards the flags…

  • “… Fidel Castro has the gall to criticize Harry S. Truman’s decision to use
    nuclear bombs to end a World War – when he urged the use of them to
    start one – that can only be described as hypocrisy…”

    Classic Fidel.

  • Why not stay on point and respond to the article ? It’s about whether US ideology is consistent and sincere and about US respect for sovereignty. Give it a try.

  • If Fidel Castro Ruz had had his way as defined in his letter of October 27th 1963 to Nikita Krushchev, there would have been a nuclear war. However, in rejecting Fidel Castro’s proposal to start a war by using nuclear weapons upon the US, Nikita Krushchev responded to him on October 30th, 1963 explaining that implementing Fidel’s proposal to make a first nuclear strike upon the US would have started a World War. That exchange is a matter of record!
    Fidel Castro has the gall to criticize Harry S. Truman’s decision to use nuclear bombs to end a World War – when he urged the use of them to start one – that can only be described as hypocrisy.
    Why not write an article about that Fernando?

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