What’s Putin Putting in Cuba?

Jaime Suchlicki
Director del Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano-Americanos de la Universidad de Miami
(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- The recent Putin visit to Cuba rekindled memories of the Cold War. In those days the Soviets used Cuba to challenge and spy on the U.S. An electronic eavesdropping facility was placed on the island. Airports and ports to service the Soviet planes and fleet were upgraded. Finally nuclear missiles were introduced bringing the world close to a nuclear holocaust.

These are different times. The U.S. is a much stronger power. Russia is a smaller, weaker nation.

Yet the Russians defied the U.S. and Europe over Crimea; are not particularly cooperative on Iran; have profound differences with the U.S. over a possible Nato-missile deployment in Europe; and recently deployed in Kaliningrad, in the Baltic, tactical nuclear missiles to the chagrin of the U.S.

Within these growing U.S.-Russian differences, what’s Putin up to in Cuba? First there is no significant Russian interest in commercial relations with a poor, debt ridden country lacking in major mineral resources and the ability to purchase large scale Russian goods. Second, while Russia signed agreements with General Raul Castro’s regime to continue to search for petroleum in Cuba’s waters, the Russians have enough petroleum and no need for Cuban petroleum. Third, these are not the Soviets, willing to subsidize the bankrupt economy of an ally.

The Russian visit is primarily strategic, perhaps aimed at poking the Americans in the eye. Russian investments in the Port of Mariel and the construction of a modern airport in San Antonio de los Baños, may not presage the visit of Russian tourists, but of naval vessels including nuclear submarines, and long range bombers. Also the installation of Glonass infrastructure could provide Cuba with remote sensory and satellite telecommunications, as well as a facility to eavesdrop on U.S. military and commercial communications, not much different than the Lourdes facility of the Cold War era, but much more sophisticated.

It seems that Putin and the Russian military are not content with remaining a second rate power. By this visit and actions, Putin is giving notice to Washington that Russia is ready for an aggressive projection of power and for a new internationalism.


HRF supports El Sexto's first US exhibit
Human Rights Foundation
Photo: HRF.   (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- NEW YORK (February 10, 2015) — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is delighted to announce Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado Machado’s first art show in the United States. El Sexto, a Cuban graffiti artist and activist, will showcase his work in an exhibition entitled “PORK,” which will take place at Market Gallery in South Beach, Miami, from February 26 to March 16.
Cuba: From Thaw to Disillusion
Carlos Alberto Montaner
Escritor, periodista y político
  (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- The Cuban-American thaw is back to a freeze. Or at least the temperature has dropped a lot. From the torrid beginning one year ago, when Obama and Raúl Castro, virtually hand in hand through television, announced the rapprochement, disillusionment has set in.
A Paper Boat Named "Liberty"
José Azel
Investigador, Universidad de Miami
  (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Property rights, or the lack of them, are central to all contemporary political philosophies. Marxism rejects property rights outright, as explained by Karl Marx in the second chapter of his Communist Manifesto: “the theory of Communists may be summed up in a single phrase: Abolition of private property."
El Sexto in New York: Cuban political prisoner visits HRF‏
Human Rights Foundation
El Sexto. Photo by the author.   (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- NEW YORK (December 14, 2015) — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) met with Cuban artist and dissident Danilo "El Sexto" Maldonado last Tuesday. After being imprisoned for ten months, without trial, for creating art that Cuban authorities considered "defamatory," the graffiti artist arrived in New York City to meet with HRF staff, including HRF chairman Garry Kasparov.
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