Tag Archives: Cuba-Russia Relations


May 17, 2022,  Marc Frank in Havana

Cuba Abstains re Russion Invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine has created fresh problems for its Caribbean ally Cuba, already shaken by street protests and facing severe financial stress amid tighter US sanctions and a pandemic-induced collapse in tourism.

Cubans have contended with chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods for more than two years, owing to the country’s heavy dependency on imports and lack of dollars to pay. Now, there are fuel shortages, more blackouts and less public transport as the island’s communist government battles to secure costly petrol and diesel supplies.

 “It’s the war. We’re already screwed and now it will only get worse,” said Antonio Fernández as he waited at a petrol station in the Playa area of Havana, the capital, to fill up his battered Chevrolet, which doubles as a taxi.

Russia was originally supposed to be guest of honour at this month’s international tourism fair in the beach resort of Varadero until the closing of western air space to punish Moscow over its invasion made flights to Cuba prohibitively expensive. Thousands of Russian tourist bookings were lost. Tourism minister Juan Carlos García Granda said Cuba was working with Russian operators to see what could be done. “We want to rescue that market, which was the main provider during the pandemic,” he said this week.

Tourism is a mainstay of Cuba’s economy, but just 575,000 visitors arrived in 2021, compared with more than 4mn before coronavirus struck. A quarter of last year’s arrivals were from Russia. Cuba had hoped for 2.5mn tourists this year but the loss of its biggest market makes that a tall order. Russian tourists queue at Juan Gualberto Gomez airport in Varadero. Tourism is a linchpin of Cuba’s economy but visitor numbers have slumped © Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

The worsening situation has fuelled an immigration crisis at the US-Mexico border, with about 100,000 Cubans crossing since October last year. That number is already greater than the number that fled in 1994, the last surge of Cuban migration, and is approaching the 1981 peak. The US has accused Havana of using migration as a safety valve to limit discontent in Cuba.

On the island, many foreign suppliers and investment partners are demanding cash on delivery having not been paid for months. Imports are down 40 per cent since 2019. The director of one Cuban company said his business was “already suffering from cuts in our monthly electricity allocation and last month our diesel was reduced to almost nothing”.

The Ukraine war threatens to torpedo any recovery in Cuba following a 9 per cent fall in gross domestic product in 2020-21. The country suffers triple-digit inflation, caused in part by a devaluation of the peso and demand for scarce goods. Even after the devaluation, the dollar still fetches four times the official rate on the black market.

Various western businessmen say payment problems in Cuba have worsened since the Ukraine invasion as the government struggles with high commodity and shipping costs. Some European traders were being paid via a Russian bank, said one trader, adding that this had now stopped.

“Ministries are going to all joint ventures asking what the minimum is they need to stay open,” said one foreign investor, adding that his Cuban partner had contributed nothing for months.

Economy minister Alejandro Gil admitted recent events were “greatly affecting economic activities”, citing high fuel prices as an example.

Pavel Vidal, a former Cuban central bank economist now at Colombia’s Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali, said sanctions against Moscow were weakening Russia’s ability to support Havana and would “add more problems to a balance of payments that has been in crisis for several years”.

 Moscow has sent several cargoes of food and humanitarian aid this year and did so in 2021, although trade and investment remain only a fraction of the levels in Soviet times. Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Cuban counterpart Miguel Díaz-Canel agreed during a phone call in January to deepen “strategic co-operation”, but past promises of Russian investment on the island have been slow to materialise.

The Ukraine war has been diplomatically awkward for Cuba, with its government blaming the conflict on the US and Nato while also calling for the respect of international borders.  Paul Hare, former UK ambassador to Havana, said Cuba, like other Russia- aligned countries, had been embarrassed by the invasion, noting how the island’s government had wanted to deepen relations with the EU. “That perhaps explains why Cuba didn’t vote against the UN General Assembly on March 2 condemning the Russian invasion but abstained,” he added.

Hare, now a senior lecturer at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, said the war had forced Cuba to pick the wrong side in what the EU considered a strategic threat. Relations with Brussels were already strained because of the draconian prison sentences imposed on hundreds of participants in last year’s anti-government protests.   “Cuba will be seen as complicit in Putin’s attempt to redraw the map of Europe and upend the world order,” he said.

Hal Klepak, a Canadian military historian who has written two books on Cuba, said the island’s armed forces remained heavily dependent on old Soviet equipment and Russian support. The first had been discredited in the Ukraine war and the second was now in doubt because of the invasion’s cost.

 Despite the problems, political change in Cuba 63 years after the revolution that brought the Castro brothers to power seems unlikely.  “Emigration serves as a safety valve for discontent,” said Bert Hoffman, a Cuba expert at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies. “As long as there are no signs of major elite splits then regime continuity is the most likely scenario.”

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Abstaining in the recent UN resolution wasn’t the first time it had to defend Moscow while abhorring its actions.


William LeoGrande

Original Article: Why Cuba Supports Russia’s Indefensible Invasion of Ukraine

Putin recibe a Díaz-Canel en Moscú

The UN General Assembly, meeting in emergency session, voted 141 to 5, to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To the surprise of many, Cuba abstained, despite its close relations with Moscow and its belief that the West instigated the crisis by expanding NATO right up to Russia’s borders, ignoring its legitimate security concerns.

This is not the first time Cuba has been caught between loyalty to its most important ally and bedrock principles of its foreign policy — non-intervention and the right of small states to sovereignty, even in the shadow of Great Power adversaries. To understand Cuba’s position on Ukraine, we need only look back at previous occasions when Cuba had to walk the same diplomatic tightrope.

The Deep Roots of Cuba’s and Russia’s Friendship

Cuba’s friendship with Russia dates back to the 1960s, when the Soviet Union embraced the Cuban revolution, providing the arms Cubans used to defeat the U.S.-sponsored exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs, as well as the financial aid Cuba needed to survive the U.S. economic embargo. Soviet aid was “a matter of life and death in our confrontation with the United States,” Fidel Castro acknowledged. “We alone against a superpower would have perished.”

Relations with Moscow broke down after the Soviet Union collapsed, when Boris Yeltsin abruptly cut off economic assistance, plunging the island into a decade-long depression. But in 2000, President Vladimir Putin visited Havana to begin rebuilding relations. Over the next two decades, a series of trade deals deepened economic ties. Then, in 2009, Raúl Castro visited Moscow and the two countries agreed to a “strategic partnership” to include tourism, economic, scientific, and diplomatic cooperation, and renewed “technical military cooperation.” Five years later, Putin canceled 90 percent of Cuba’s $32 billion Soviet-era debt

When President Miguel Díaz-Canel went on an extended diplomatic tour shortly after his inauguration, Moscow was his first stop. When Cuba was reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021, in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, Russia sent tons of food and medical supplies. Just days before Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine, Putin dispatched Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov to Havana to ”deepen” bilateral ties, and Russia agreed to postpone until 2027 payments on Cuba’s new $2.3 billion debt. 

Although Cuba is nowhere near as dependent on Russia today as it was dependent on the Soviet Union, Russia is once again Cuba’s principal ally among the major powers at a time when the United States has returned to a policy of hostility and regime change.

Czechoslovakia, 1968

When the Soviet Union and other Warsaw pact powers invaded Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968, to depose the reform communist government of Alexander Dubcek, the Cuban government was silent for three days. Cubans were generally sympathetic to Dubček’s attempt to plot a course independent of Moscow because Cuba itself was in the midst of deep disagreements with the Kremlin over both foreign and domestic policy. In January, Fidel Castro had accused Moscow of delaying oil shipments as a warning about Cuba’s apostasy. 

When Castro finally spoke out, people were shocked that instead of condemning the invasion of this small country by its larger neighbor, he justified it backhandedly as a “bitter necessity” to preserve socialism in Czechoslovakia and the integrity of the socialist bloc. But, he asked rhetorically, would the new Brezhnev Doctrine apply to Cuba? “Will they send the divisions of the Warsaw Pact to Cuba if the Yankee imperialists attack our country?” He knew the answer was no. Cuba was too far away, and in Washington’s sphere of influence. 

The Brezhnev Doctrine’s implicit assertion of a Soviet security sphere in Eastern Europe, overriding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, posed an obvious problem for Cuba because of the doctrine’s uneasy similarity to the Monroe Doctrine. In the aftermath of Czechoslovakia, voices on the Latin American right were clamoring for Washington to invade Cuba in retaliation. 

Castro reiterated the importance of the principle of non-intervention, calling it a “shield” for weaker nations against the depredations of Great Powers. He acknowledged that the Soviet invasion was “unquestionably a violation of legal principles and international norms. From a legal point of view, this cannot be justified,” he admitted. “Not the slightest trace of legality exists. Frankly, none whatever.”

The speech marked a turning point in Cuba-Soviet relations. Moscow’s gratitude for Cuba’s support eased bilateral tensions and led to deeper political and military cooperation and increased economic assistance.

Afghanistan, 1979

In September 1979, Cuba hosted the Sixth Summit of the Movement of Nonaligned Nations and began its term as chair — the culmination of Fidel Castro’s ambition to become a leader of the global south. Just three months later, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, a nonaligned member. The invasion dealt a fatal blow to Cuba’s argument that the Soviet Union was a “natural ally” of the nonaligned, tarnishing its leadership of the Movement.  

The Security Council called the General Assembly into emergency session to consider a resolution condemning the invasion. Cuban ambassador Raúl Roa denounced the United States for “rolling drums of a new cold war,” but admitted that Cuba faced an “historical dilemma” because many of its friends saw the resolution as a defense of national sovereignty and peoples’ right to independence. “Cuba will always uphold that right,” Roa insisted, but Cuba would “never carry water to the mill of reaction and imperialism.” He made no effort to justify the Soviet action and said not one word in its defense. Nevertheless, Cuba voted no on the resolution, which was adopted 104 to 18.

Two days later, Fidel Castro hosted three U.S. diplomats who had come to implore him to speak out publicly against the Soviet invasion. Cuba did not support the Soviet action, Castro acknowledged. “Anything which affects the principle of non-intervention affects us, and we know it.” But whatever disagreements Cuba had with Moscow, it would not side publicly with the United States. “We have always had a friend in the Soviet Union and we have always had an enemy in the United States,” he said. “Therefore, we could not possibly align with the United States against the Soviet Union.”

Ukraine, 2022

After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the Cuban government’s public statements blamed the West for creating the conditions that led to the crisis by ignoring Russia’s repeated warnings about NATO expansion. Yet despite echoing Russia’s rationale for the attack, Cuba never endorsed it. On the contrary, in the UN General Assembly debate, Cuba’s representative. Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, noted Russia’s “non-observance of legal principles and international norms.”

“Cuba strongly endorses and supports those principles and norms,” he went on, “which are, particularly for small countries, an essential reference to fight hegemony, abuse of power and injustice.” He repeated Cuba’s earlier call for a negotiated solution to the conflict “that guarantees the security and sovereignty of all and addresses legitimate humanitarian concerns…. Cuba will always defend peace and unambiguously oppose the use or threat of use of force against any State.” On the resolution condemning Russian aggression, Cuba, along with 34 other countries, abstained. 

Cuba as Collateral Damage

After Venezuela failed to vote on the UN resolution, senior U.S. officials traveled to Caracas to discuss with President Nicolás Maduro the possibility of lifting U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan oil sales to offset the shortage of global supply induced by the impending boycott of Soviet oil and gas. Heretofore, the Biden administration had refused to even recognize Maduro’s government. Cuba, with no oil to offer, received no such overture. 

The West’s sanctions against Russia are likely to hurt Cuba, too, making it even harder for Havana to conduct international financial transactions through Russian banks, and harder for Russian tourists to get to Cuba. At the dawn of the new cold war, Cuba is once again caught in the crossfire. 

Cuba no longer has any special ideological affinity for Russia and is far less dependent on it economically than it was on the Soviet Union in 1968 or 1979. But neither can Havana afford to spurn the one major power that has stood most consistently by Cuba’s side through decades of U.S. efforts at subversion. Realpolitik dictates that Cuba cultivate good relations with major powers like Russia and China so long as it lives in the shadow of a hostile United States. “Our isolation by the United States has forced us to ally with the rest of the world,” Castro told U.S. diplomats in 1979, explaining his refusal to denounce the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. 

So once again, Cuban diplomats are called upon to thread the needle, expressing sympathy and understanding for the indefensible actions of Cuba’s principal ally without actually endorsing them, and simultaneously trying to uphold the international principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention that their ally has violated — principles essential for the defense of Cuba’s own sovereignty. As Castro told the U.S. diplomats in 1979, “We are playing two roles…It’s not easy.”

So once again, Cuban diplomats are called upon to thread the needle, expressing sympathy and understanding for the indefensible actions of Cuba’s principal ally without actually endorsing them, and simultaneously trying to uphold the international principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention that their ally has violated — principles essential for the defense of Cuba’s own sovereignty. As Castro told the U.S. diplomats in 1979, “We are playing two roles…It’s not easy.”

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By Polina Devitt  and Dave Sherwood

MOSCOW/HAVANA Reuters, Feb 22, 2022

Original Article: Russia’s Renewed Purchase of Cuban Support

Russia has agreed to postpone some debt payments owed to it by communist-run Cuba until 2027, its lower house of parliament said on Tuesday, just days after the two countries announced they would deepen ties amid the spiraling Ukraine crisis.

The loans, worth $2.3 billion and provided to Cuba by Russia between 2006 and 2019, helped underwrite investments in power generation, metals and transportation infrastructure, according to a statement from the lower house, or Duma.

Russia and Cuba expand their ‘strategic’ ties

On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers ratified an agreement, originally signed with Cuban counterparts in Havana in 2021, that amended the loan terms, the statement said.

Cuba last week expressed support for Russia in its showdown with Western powers over Ukraine following a visit from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, and accused long-time rival the United States and its allies of targeting Moscow with what it called a “propaganda war” and sanctions. read more

Russia’s decision to soften the loan terms comes as Cuba wrestles with a dire social and economic crisis that has led to severe shortages in food and medicine, and it follows protests last year believed to be the largest since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.

Since the revolution, the two countries have had a long history of economic and military collaboration, though in recent decades those ties have faded.

Russia has, however, continued to deliver humanitarian aid and provide loans to the island.

Over the last decade, Cuba has also restructured debt with China, Germany and Mexico, as well as with Japanese commercial debt holders.  In October, Cuba reached a deal with the Paris Club of creditor nations to postpone an annual debt payment due in November until later this year. read more

Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin is expected to visit Cuba and Nicaragua on Feb. 23 and 24.

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Reflections on Global Connections

Edited by Mervyn J. Bain and Chris Walker – Contributions by Mervyn J. Bain; Jeffrey DeLaurentis; H. Michael Erisman; Liliana Fernández Mollinedo; Adrian Hearn; Rafael Hernández; John M. Kirk; Peter Kornbluh; William LeoGrande; Robert L. Muse; Isaac Saney; Paolo Spadoni; Josefina Vidal and Chris Walker

Cuban International Relations at 60 brings together the perspectives of leading experts and the personal accounts of two ambassadors to examine Cuba’s global engagement and foreign policy since January 1959 by focusing on the island’s key international relationships and issues. Thisbook’s first section focuseson Havana’s complex relationship with Washington and its second section concentrates on Cuba’s other key relationships with consideration also being given to Cuba’s external trade and investment sectors and the possibility of the island becoming a future petro-power. Throughout this study due attention is given to the role of history and Cuban nationalism in the formation of the island’s unique foreign policy. This book’s examination and reflection on Cuba as an actor on the international arena for the 60 years of the revolutionary period highlights the multifaceted and complex reasons for the island’s global engagement. It concludes that Cuba’s global presence since January 1959 has been remarkable for a Caribbean island, is unparalleled, and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Scholars of international relations, Latin American studies, and political science n will find this book particularly interesting.

Lexington Books

Pages: 306 • Trim: 6 x 9

978-1-7936-3018-6 • Hardback • May 2021 • $110.00 • (£85.00)

978-1-7936-3019-3 • eBook • May 2021 • $45.00 • (£35.00) (coming soon)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Reflections on Cuba’s Global Connections (1959-2019)

Mervyn J. Bain and Chris Walker.

Part I: Cuban – U.S. Relations

Chapter 1 The Process of Rapprochement Between Cuba and the United States: Lessons Learnt. Remarks at the “The Cuban Revolution at 60” conference. Dalhousie University, Halifax, October 31, 2019.  Josefina Vidal

Chapter 2 US-Cuban Relations: Personal Reflections. Remarks by Ambassador (ret.) Jeffrey DeLaurentis. Saturday, November 2, 2019  Jeffrey DeLaurentis

Chapter 3 Coercive Diplomacy or Constructive Engagement: Sixty Years of US Policy Toward Cuba.  William LeoGrande

Chapter 4 The President has the Constitutional Power to Terminate the Embargo.  Robert L. Muse

Chapter 5 [Re]Searching for the ‘Havana Syndrome’.  Peter Kornbluh

Chapter 6 From Eisenhower to Trump: A Historical Summary of the US-Cuba Conflict (1959-2020).  Liliana Fernández Mollinedo

Part II: Cuba on the Global Stage

Chapter 7 Cuba is Africa, Africa is Cuba.  Isaac Saney

Chapter 8 Cuba-Canada Relations: Challenges and Prospects.  John Kirk

Chapter 9 Cuba-China Relations and the Construction of Socialism.  Adrian H. Hearn and Rafael Hernández

Chapter 10 Cuba-European Union Relations. A Complex and Multifaceted Relationship.  Liliana Fernández Mollinedo and Mervyn J. Bain

Chapter 11 Havana and Moscow; Now, the Future and the Shadow of the Past.  Mervyn J. Bain

Chapter 12 Havana and Caracas: Counter-Hegemonic Cooperation and the Battle for Sovereignty. Chris Walker

Chapter 13 Cuba’s Struggling External Sector: Internal Challenges and Outside Factors.  Paolo Spadoni

Chapter 14 Cuba as a Petropower? Foreign Relations Implications. H. Michael Erisman

Conclusions: Reflections on Cuba’s Global Connections.  Mervyn J. Bain and Chris Walker

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El secretario ejecutivo de la Comisión Intergubernamental Ruso-Cubana de Comercio, Oleg Kucheriáviy,  lamentó el “silencio” y “dilación” de las autoridades de la Isla.

14ymedio, La Habana | Diciembre 29, 2020

Original Article: RUSIA SUSPENDE

Rusia ha suspendido el proyecto de modernización de los ferrocarriles cubanos “debido a las dificultades económicas y las restricciones de cuarentena en la Isla”, según informó al diario Gudok el director de la empresa estatal de ferrocarriles del país euroasiático (RZD), Serguéi Pávlov.

“Lamentablemente, hemos tenido que suspender nuestro proyecto de modernización integral de la infraestructura ferroviaria cubana debido a las dificultades económicas y las restricciones de cuarentena en la Isla, pero esperamos reanudar las obras después de que la situación se haya estabilizado”, apuntó Gudok.

En octubre de 2019, RZD firmó con la Unión de Ferrocarriles de Cuba un convenio para modernizar toda la estructura ferroviaria cubana, que ha sufrido un profundo deterioro en las últimas décadas. Según el acuerdo, Rusia financiaba completamente el proyecto, valorado en 2.314 millones de dólares.

En los planes iniciales estaban el diseño, la reparación y la modernización de más de 1.000 kilómetros de la infraestructura ferroviaria

En los planes iniciales estaban el diseño, la reparación y la modernización de más de 1.000 kilómetros de la infraestructura ferroviaria con materiales, tecnologías y equipos de producción rusa. También la creación de un centro único de control de circulación de trenes y la formación, en centros educativos rusos, de personal de la Isla.

La noticia llega menos de una semana después de que el ministro de Transportes de Cuba, Eduardo Rodríguez, el embajador de Rusia en La Habana, Andrei Guskov, y el representante comercial ruso en la Isla, Alexander Bogatyr, recibieran en La Habana siete locomotoras, en medio de fuertes dudas sobre el futuro de la cooperación entre los viejos aliados.

“La llegada de estas locomotoras a Cuba coloca al ferrocarril en una mejor posición para enfrentar los retos de transporte del próximo año; vemos a este proyecto, que se ha desarrollado como parte de los acuerdos de la Comisión Intergubernamental Cuba-Rusia con la compañía rusa Sinara, como ejemplar”, dijo entonces Rodríguez a la agencia rusa Sputnik.

Los funcionarios presentes en el acto de recibimiento de los equipos se esforzaron en declarar que la cooperación seguía adelante aunque “los efectos del covid y de esta crisis derivada de la pandemia nos han obligado a extender los plazos y a reorganizar los proyectos, pero la voluntad y continuidad de estos proyectos se mantienen vigentes y continuaremos en 2021 trabajando en esa dirección”, remarcó Rodríguez.

El mensaje apoyado por Bogatyr, que lamentó que fuera “la única entrega de locomotoras este año, pero estamos seguros de que el año próximo será más fructífero (…) así que los planes de colaboración son importantes en la esfera de los ferrocarriles, no solamente con Sinara, sino con otras importantes empresas rusas que tienen proyectos y esperan continuar desarrollándolos”.

Ninguno de los dos hizo alusión a las palabras del secretario ejecutivo de la Comisión Intergubernamental Ruso-Cubana de Comercio, Cooperación Económica, Científica y Técnica, Oleg Kucheriáviy, que unos días antes dejaban entrever una cancelación masiva de inversiones en Cuba por incumplimientos por parte de La Habana.

El funcionario detalló a la prensa rusa que, de los 60 proyectos conjuntos, apenas diez estaban llevándose a cabo

El funcionario detalló a la prensa rusa que, de los 60 proyectos conjuntos, apenas diez estaban llevándose a cabo y señaló en una reunión de la Comisión de Asuntos Internacionales del Senado que la última sesión de la comisión intergubernamental, que debía celebrarse en la Isla, fue cancelada por “silencio” y “dilación” de las autoridades cubanas.

Yuri I. Borisov, viceprimer ministro de Rusia y encargado desde 2018 de las relaciones económicas con Cuba ya dijo aquel año a la televisión de su país, tras un viaje a la Isla, que los funcionarios cubanos no tenían interés en poner dinero para las inversiones necesarias y que en las negociaciones imperaba una mentalidad de la Guerra Fría que en la Rusia postsoviética ya no tiene lugar.

“Son negociantes complicados, no lo voy a esconder, la mentalidad del pasado pesa sobre ellos constantemente. Durante las negociaciones, en las posiciones que llevan, siempre aparece que somos un puesto de avanzada de la revolución mundial y simplemente nos tienen que ayudar”, señaló.

La pausa en el acuerdo llega en un mal momento para el transporte de pasajeros y cargas en la Isla, muy afectado por la obsolescencia tecnológica y los problemas de infraestructura. El total de locomotoras que tenía previsto suministrar Rusia en el marco del acuerdo era de 75, de las cuales ya han llegado 60. Según el ministro de Transportes, muchas de ellas ya “participan en los principales tráficos de transportes del ferrocarril en Cuba”.

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An Energy Crisis Is Putting Cuba’s Post-Castro Leadership to Its First Test

William M. LeoGrande | Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019

Venezuela’s economic collapse and Washington’s new sanctions on companies shipping Venezuelan oil to Cuba have plunged the island nation into its most severe energy crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. In response, Havana is looking to its old ally Russia to plug the hole in energy supplies left by the decline in Venezuelan shipments. But the crisis is hampering plans to implement economic reforms that Havana hopes will respond to popular demands for economic liberalization while retaining the Communist Party’s political dominance.

Continue reading: An Energy Crisis Is Putting Cubas Post-Castro Leadership to Its First Test

Image result for cuba energy refineries gas

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New Book: CUBAN FOREIGN POLICY:,Transformation Under Raúl Castro

Edited by H. Michael Erisman and John M. Kirk

This volume illustrates the sweeping changes in Cuban foreign policy under Raúl Castro. Leading scholars from around the world show how the significant shift in foreign policy direction that started in 1990 after the implosion of the Soviet Union has continued, in many ways taking totally unexpected paths—as is shown by the move toward the normalization of relations with Washington. Providing a systematic overview of Cuba’s relations with the United States, Latin America, Russia, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, this book will be invaluable for courses on contemporary Cuban politics.


Michael Erisman is professor of international affairs at Indiana State University.

John M. Kirk is professor of Latin American studies at Dalhousie University.



Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Pages: 314 • Trim: 6 x 9

978-1-4422-7092-3 • Hardback • April 2018 • $85.00 • (£54.95)

978-1-4422-7093-0 • Paperback • April 2018 • $35.00 • (£23.95)

978-1-4422-7094-7 • eBook • April 2018 • $33.00 • (£22.95)



  1. Historical Introduction to Foreign Policy under Raúl Castro, John M. Kirk

Part I: Key Issue Areas

  1. The Defense Contribution to Foreign Policy: Crucial in the Past, Crucial Today
    Hal Klepak,
  2. Cuba’s International Economic Relations: A Macroperspective on Performance and Challenges, H. Michael Erisman
  3. The Evolution of Cuban Medical Internationalism, John M. Kirk

Part II: Cuba’s Regional Relations

5. Cuba and Latin America and the Caribbean, Andrés Serbin
6. Cuba and Africa: Recasting Old Relations in New but Familiar Ways, Isaac Saney
7. Cuba and Asia and Oceania, Pedro Monzón and Eduardo Regalado Florido
8. Cuba and the European Union, Susanne Gratius
9. Cuba, Oceania, and a “Canberra Spring”, Tim Anderson

Part III:Cuba’s Key Bilateral Relations

10. The United States and Cuba, William LeoGrande
11. Canada and Cuba, John M. Kirk and Raúl Rodríguez
12. Spain and Cuba, Joaquín Roy
13. Venezuela and Cuba, Carlos A. Romero
14. Brazil and Cuba, Regiane Nitsch Bressan
15. Russia and Cuba, Mervyn Bain
16. China and Cuba, Andrian H. Hearn and Rafael Hernández

Part IV: Retrospective and Prospective Views

17. Conclusion, H. Michael Erisman and John M. Kirk

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William LeoGrande, Guest Co-editor; Arien Mack, Journal Editor


William M. Leogrande, Introduction: Cuba Looks to the Future                235



Ricardo Torres Pérez, Updating the Cuban Economy: The First 10 Years                                                                                                                            255

Archibald R.M. Ritter,   Private and Cooperative Enterprise in Cuba’s Economic Future                                                                                                                           277

Richard E. Feinberg,  Bienvenida—Maybe: Cuba’s Gradual Opening to World Markets                                                                                                                          305

Katrin Hansing,  Race and Inequality in the New Cuba: Reasons, Dynamics, and Manifestations                                                                                                               331



William M. Leogrande,  Updating Cuban Socialism: The Politics of Economic Renovation                                                                                                                     353

Margaret E. Crahan, Cuba: Religion and Civil Society                                          383

Rafael Hernández, Intellectuals, Civil Society, and Political Power in Cuban Socialism  407

Ted A. Henken, Cuba’s Digital Millennials: Independent Digital Media and Civil Society on the Island of the Disconnected                                                                                     429




Philip Brenner And Teresa Garcia Castro,  A Long Legacy of Distrust and the Future of Cuban-US Relations                                                                                                    459

Carlos Oliva Campos And Gary Prevost,  Cuba’s Relations with Latin America   487

Mervyn J. Bain, Havana, Moscow, and Beijing: Looking to the Future in the Shadow of the Past                                                                                                                                          507



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William M. LeoGrande, Contributor, Professor of Government at American University

Huffington Post, 06/05/2017 07:50 am ET

President Trump has a knack for bad optics. The day after he fired FBI Director James Comey in hopes of taking the pressure off the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election, Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office. Now, as Comey prepares to testify before Congress about Trump’s request that the FBI halt the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, the president is preparing to announce a Cuba policy that would clear the way for Moscow to re-establish itself as Cuba’s principal foreign patron.

President Trump and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak

According to press reports, Trump is on the verge of reversing key elements of Barack Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba, even though his own government’s review concluded it is producing positive results across a range of issues, including security. If the United States reverts to a policy of hostility, U.S. adversaries will once again reap the rewards, and Russia will be first in line—just like it was in 1960.

The end of the Cold War severed Cuba’s partnership with the Soviet Union, but Vladimir Putin has been restoring Russia’s global influence by repairing relations with traditional allies. Russia’s resurgence in the Caribbean dates to Putin’s 2000 trip to Havana, followed by Raúl Castro’s 2009 visit to Moscow—the first since the end of the Cold War.

In July 2014, Putin visited the island again and agreed to forgive 90% of Cuba’s $32 billion in Soviet-era debt. By the time Raúl Castro returned to Moscow in 2015, Russia had signed agreements to invest in infrastructure development and oil exploration, and agreed to lend Cuba 1.2 billion Euros to develop thermal energy. When Venezuela failed to meet its promised oil shipments to Cuba, Russia stepped in to cover the shortfall.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cuban President Raúl Castro, July 11, 2014.

The linkages extend beyond commerce. Both sides refer to their revived relationship as a “strategic partnership” with diplomatic and military components. Russia is refurbishing and replacing Cuba’s aging Soviet-era armaments. Russian naval vessels visit Cuban ports, the most prominent being the ostentatious arrival of a large Russian surveillance vessel in January 2015, the day before U.S. and Cuban diplomats began talks on normalizing diplomatic relations. Russia reportedly wants to establish a military base on the island.

At the Pentagon, the intrusion of extra-hemispheric powers in Latin America has been a serious concern since 2010 when the U.S. Southern Command’s annual Posture Statement first identified Russia, China, and Iran as challenging U.S. interests. Every year since, SouthCom has warned that Washington needs to increase its engagement with the region to counter the influence of outsiders.

Just this past April, Admiral Kurt W. Kidd presented the 2017 Posture Statement to Congress, declaring, “For Russia, China, and Iran, Latin America is not an afterthought. These global actors view the Latin American economic, political, and security arena as an opportunity to achieve their respective long-term objectives and advance interests that may be incompatible with ours.”

For some policymakers, this geostrategic challenge mandates support for engagement with Cuba, giving Havana less incentive to expand its economic relationships with Russia and China into politico-military ones. K. T. McFarland, who served briefly as Trump’s deputy national security advisor, succinctly summarized the argument for engaging Cuba before she joined the administration: “It would be foreign policy malpractice if we stood aside while our adversaries develop strong bilateral and economic — and possibly military relations.”

A few months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, 16 retired senior military officers, including a former commander of SouthCom, sent National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster an open letter urging the administration to maintain engagement with Cuba on national security grounds, citing successful cooperation on counter-terrorism, border control, drug interdiction, environmental protection, and emergency preparedness. “If we fail to engage economically and politically,” they warned, “it is certain that China, Russia, and other entities whose interests are contrary to the United States’ will rush into the vacuum.”

So why would President Trump reverse a policy that his own government judges to be largely successful, and that enjoys broad support with the general public, business community, and national security establishment—especially when that reversal would give adversaries like Russia, China, and Iran a new foothold in the hemisphere? According to the White House, the answer is human rights: “As the President has said, the current Cuba policy is a bad deal,” spokesman Michael Short claimed. “It does not do enough to support human rights in Cuba.”

The invocation of human rights is clearly an excuse rather than the real reason. The administration has shown no interest whatsoever in human rights in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, or the Philippines. On the contrary, the president has gone out of his way to praise and encourage leaders whose human rights records are far worse than Cuba’s. Moreover, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said explicitly that “America First” means human rights will take a back seat to U.S. national security and economic interests.

The real reason for changing Cuba policy is raw, naked politics. Cuban American Representative Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), one of the most vocal critics of Obama’s policy, reportedly extracted a commitment from the White House to be tough on Cuba as the price for his vote to repeal Obamacare. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the other main proponent of turning back the clock, sits on the Intelligence Committee investigating the Trump Campaign’s Russian connections. Instead of draining the swamp, the Trump team has apparently decided that to swim in it, you have to feed the alligators.

It would be exquisitely ironic if Trump adopted Marco Rubio’s failed Cuba policy in order to curry favor with him in hopes of blunting the Senate’s Russia investigation— and by so doing ceded to Moscow a dominant geostrategic position on our doorstep in Cuba.

William M. LeoGrande is co-author with Peter Kornbluh of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

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Proyecciones macroeconómicas de una Cuba sin Venezuela

Pavel Vidal Alejandro

from the  Cuba Study Group, Desde la Isla; original source:  full article

Análisis de Pavel Vidal acerca del impacto a la economía cubana en el supuesto caso de una reducción importante en la cooperación económica con Venezuela.

New PictureDesde inicios de la década pasada la economía cubana ha venido incrementando sistemáticamente sus relaciones con Venezuela. Actualmente el comercio de bienes representa el 40% del intercambio total de la isla, muy por encima del segundo lugar ocupado por China con 12,5%. En este porcentaje pesa sobre todo la importación de petróleo venezolano; en 2011 la factura llegó a US$2.759 millones. La importación del crudo venezolano cubre el 60% de la demanda nacional y además permite la reexportación de una parte del mismo. Solo el 50% del pago de las importaciones de crudo venezolan se efectúa dentro de los primeros 90 días, el restante 50% se acumula en una deuda a pagarse en 25 años con un tipo de interés del 1% anual.

 Continue reading: Vidal,  Cuba sin Venezuela

New Picture (11)

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