By Chris Fry
With U.S. officials and their Afghan collaborators engaged in a mad scramble to escape from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, now is the time to note another huge international failure by the Biden Administration: i.e., to enlist international support for their vicious campaign of blockade and sanctions against socialist Cuba, especially in Latin America, and particularly among other Caribbean nations.
Even before the violent demonstrations against the socialist Cuban government on July 11th, sparked by both the U.S. blockade as well as the CIA, for the 29th year in a row, the United Nations passed a resolution, 184 countries to 2, the 2 being the U.S. and Israel, demanding that the U.S. “end the economic blockade against Cuba.”
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, present during the vote in the General Assembly Hall, said that the blockade was a “massive, flagrant and unacceptable violation of the human rights of the Cuban people”.
He added that the embargo is about “an economic war of extraterritorial scope against a small country already affected in the recent period by the economic crisis derived from the pandemic”.
“Like the virus, the blockade asphyxiates and kills, it must stop”, he urged.
Biden’s anti-Cuban policies have especially failed in Latin America, where only four right-wing U.S. allies (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala) signed on to Washington’s statement: “condemning [Cuba’s] mass arrests and calling for full restoration of disrupted internet access.” Even Canada refused to sign Biden’s statement.
When the head of the Organization of American States (OAS), U.S. puppet Louis Almagro, tried to set up a meeting to have the group condemn Cuba, he found overwhelming oppositionfrom the member countries.
“Any discussion could only satisfy political hawks with an eye on U.S. midterm elections where winning South Florida with the backing of Cuban exiles would be a prize,” wrote Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the OAS, Ronald Sanders, in a column published on digital platform Caribbean News Global.
“The task of the OAS should be to promote peaceful and cooperative relations in the hemisphere, not to feed division and conflict.”
He had sent a letter on behalf of 13 countries from the Caribbean Community or CARICOM – which though small, represents a significant voting bloc in the OAS – urging the body to reconsider the “unproductive” meeting, while other countries sent similar missives.
Cuba’s ambassador to Argentina, Pedro Pablo Prada, responded to Almagro’s failed meeting attempt:
‘One can be an ideological adversary but not a faker. If the Cuban Revolution were not deeply libertarian and democratic, it would not be in power, nor would Cubans have resisted over 60 years of blockades and aggressions, nor practiced solidarity with the world that supports us,’ Prada noted.
The growing list of “leftist” Latin American countries, including Mexico, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela have all sent aid to Cuba, with the new president of Peru offering his support as well. Cuba responded:
“We appreciate countries that defended the Latin American and Caribbean dignity,” said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who has accused U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries of being behind the protests following years of open U.S. funding of democracy programs on the island.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson said it was “deeply disappointed” the OAS meeting did not take place, adding: “The people of the Americas have a right to hear from the Inter-American Commission on Human rights about the situation in Cuba”.
Of course, this official multi-government support for Cuba, in defiance of imperialist pressure, comes on top of mass solidarity demonstrations across the U.S. and around the world.
Biden’s broken promises
During his presidential campaign, Biden promised a return to Obama’s Cuba policies, which relaxed many of the sanctions and reopened the U.S. embassy in Cuba. “Trump’s reversals,” Biden said during his campaign, “have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.” Of course, neither Obama’s, Biden’s, nor Trump’s strategies ever meant an end to the imperialist dream of regime change in Cuba.
Analysts have blamed Biden’s shift back to the Trump strategy, which disappointed many Biden supporters, to “tighten” the blockade against Cuba on his trying to draw political support from the right-wing Cuban exile community in Florida and from Republican politicians in general, as well as keep the backing of Democratic rabid anti-Cuban U.S. Senator Menendez from New Jersey. This all may be true.
But there may be another important factor as to why Biden has decided to continue the Trump strategy in Cuba, which is the same reason that he is continuing and increasing the level of confrontation with the People’s Republic of China.
China’s Caribbean Belt and Silk Road Initiative
On December 24, 2020, the newsletter “The Diplomat”, a journal closely connected to the U.S. State Department, published an article by two scholars titled: “Sino-Cuban Relations: No New ‘Cold War’ in Havana”. The article had a subtitle that read: “If we were going to see a new Cold War in the Caribbean, it should have happened by now.”
The article asserted that:
However, placed in the context of increasingly frantic pronouncements about a “New Cold War” and Beijing’s consistently more aggressive foreign policy, predictions of significant deepening of Sino-Cuban relations have come up short…Beijing has shown no signs of taking the enormously risky step of formalizing any sort of relationship with Cuba beyond fairly conventional aid and investment support at a level that is woefully insufficient to meet Havana’s severe on the ground needs. Moreover, the window for such an approach appears to be closing.
In Washington, conventional wisdom holds that the incoming Biden administration will return to the status quo ante of the Obama era, rolling back Trump’s restrictions and returning to a Cuba policy based on engagement rather than isolation and embargo.
But just seven short months later, how the official Washington viewpoint has changed! Biden now calls Cuba a “failed state”, ripe for military intervention and occupation. Wall Street’s political minions from both bourgeois parties have chimed in agreement, with the mayor of Miami calling for a bombing campaign against Cuba.
A new article in “The Diplomat”, published on August 3, is written by Leland Lazarus, a speechwriter for Admiral Craig Faller, Combatant Commander of U.S. Southern Command, and Dr, Evan Ellis, a research professor at the U.S. War College Strategic Studies Institute. This article, titled “How China Helps the Cuban Regime Stay Afloat and Shut Down Protests”, carries a far more aggressive message against both socialist Cuba and socialist China.
Its subtitle is: “Chinese companies have played a key part in building Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure, a system the regime uses to control its people, just as the CCP does within its own borders.” Unlike the December article, this one puts both the Pentagon’s “pivot to the Pacific” strategy and militarist paranoia on full display:
Due to its position in the Caribbean, Cuba can exert influence over the southeastern maritime approach to the United States, which contains vital sea lanes leading to ports in Miami, New Orleans, and Houston. Author George Friedman has argued that, with an increased presence in Cuba, China could potentially “block American ports without actually blocking them,” just like U.S. naval bases and installations pose a similar challenge to China around the first island chain and Straits of Malacca. Cuba’s influence in the Caribbean also makes it a useful proxy through which Beijing can pressure the four countries in the region (out of the 15 total globally) that recognize Taiwan to switch recognition.
It should be noted that Fighting Words recently published an article, “Was Moise Killed to Stop China’s Belt and Silk Road in the Caribbean?”, which asked: Did the CIA kill the president of Haiti to prevent that country from switching its recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China?
The Diplomat article complains about China “filling in” for the former Soviet Union in assisting Cuba’s development:
High-level government officials from China have visited Cuba 22 times since 1993; Cuban high level government officials have visited China 25 times since 1995. During a visit to the island in 2014, President Xi Jinping said, “The two countries advance hand in hand on the road on the path of the construction of socialism with its own characteristics, offering reciprocal support on issues related to our respective vital interests.”
In November of 2018, Cuba signed on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In the agricultural sector, Chinese companies are increasing sugar and rice production, improving irrigation to boost crop yields, and providing tractors to plow Cuban fields.
Chinese influence on the island doesn’t end there. Cubans are now traveling with cars from Geely, trucks from Sino Truck, and buses from Yutong. The company Haier now sells appliances and electronics to Cuba, including the establishment of a computer assembly plant and renewable energy research facility on the island. China’s Jilin province and the city of Changchun have cooperative relations with Cuban biopharmaceutical companies. Cuba was one of the first official destinations for Spanish-language training for Chinese personnel in the hemisphere. Reciprocally, the University of Havana was one of the first Confucius Institutes established by China in the region.
Obviously, revolutionary Cuba’s heroic anti-imperialist legacy and its assistance to oppressed countries around the world is reason enough for Washington’s renewed vicious hostility to its government and people. But the fact that Biden has stepped up Trump’s anti-China strategy across the globe must be recognized as a key factor in this and should be considered by the support movement for socialist Cuba. Cuba has a right to deepen its relations with socialist China to assist in its own technical development without interference from U.S. imperialism.
End the Cuba blockade! End the U.S. war threats against China and Cuba!