Leading figures in the Trump administration have described Cuba as a serious national security threat to the United States in a further return to Cold War rhetoric.
While Cuba has remained a preoccupation for the US intelligence services for sixty years, the Trump administration is clearly aiming at escalating diplomatic hostilities between Washington and Havana.
The position of the Trump administration also has serious implications for solidarity work with Cuba.
Couched within a recent official US media release about Venezuela is a direct reference to Cuba as 'the more serious national security threat'. References to 'Cuba's intelligence operations in the US', together with 'its efforts to spread anti-US views in other Latin American countries', leave little to the imagination. (1) 'The administration's thinking,” according to the media release, “… is to sever ties that bind Venezuela to Cuba and sink regimes in both countries'. (2) It is not the language of usual diplomacy, but the rhetoric of the new Cold War, directly primarily at the ignorant sections of societies which follow far-right political affiliations.
It is also no surprise that the Trump administration has targeted Cuba.
With the victory of the Cuban Revolution in January, 1959, the country embarked upon Socialist development which has provided a beacon of light toward the darkness of exploitation and repression elsewhere. Based a mere ninety miles off the coast of Miami, Cuba successfully challenged US domination, first in the neighbouring southern half of the Americas, bound by common languages and experience. It soon, however, also challenged US positions further afield, across what eventually became the developing world following independence from colonial masters in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
The successes of the revolution have been well-recorded with little ambiguity: equality of opportunity for all sections of society together with social welfare provision not only lead the developing world, but also put many advanced, industrial countries to shame.
Cuba also provided huge educational programs for students from the developing countries; many African people owe their educational achievements to Cuban teachers. Cuba has also been very generous with medical provision, often in the poorest corners of the globe.
Cuban support for the MPLA government in Angola is perhaps one of the best examples of Cuban internationalism: following the South African Defence Force-led Operation Savannah, October 1975, Cuba airlifted large numbers of personnel to support the recently independent Angola. During the period, 1975-91, a total of, '425,000 Cubans volunteered for duty in Angola in response to requests from the government of that country, which had just wrested freedom from Portugal after nearly five centuries of brutal exploitation and colonial domination'. (3) Cuban internationalism in Angola contributed toward a changing balance of forces across the whole of southern Africa, leading to the collapse of white supremacist Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa together with formal independence for Namibia.
It was Cuba which made the vital contribution toward the ending of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Africa. Before their involvement, the South African Defence Forces were the most powerful in the continent; Cuban involvement enabled a tipping of the balance of forces.
It is important to note the concern raised within the US about the changing balance of forces and the merging of corporate with military, defence and security considerations. The January, 1976, report of the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General George S. Brown, of the Air Force, noted about Africa that 'any large-scale breach of the peace could destroy capital investment of American firms and interrupt US access to important raw materials such as aluminium, chromium, oil, manganese, tin, tungsten, copper, iron and lead'. (4)
The US response to the concern was to recruit murderous thugs and mercenaries. Later revelations that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had authorised US$1.3 million for a covert operation which included 'at least 12 and possibly as many as 24 CIA agents did help train military units inside Angola' eventually became public following a Senate Intelligence Committee finding. (5) It was also not coincidental that the financial support for the mercenaries was allocated in October 1975, at the beginning of Operation Savannah. (6)
At no time, in any official form was any reference made to US taxpayers’ money being used to support corporate interests in southern Africa. The shareholders within the military-industrial complex, however, were obviously kept very happy; their wealth was amassed from the exploitation of black workers living on almost starvation wages.
The US covert operation, together with Operation Savannah, nevertheless, failed to achieve objectives. The MPLA government in Luanda eventually assumed control of the country.
Cuba, however, far from exporting practical and theoretical revolutions, has always taken time to show their endeavour is to create a good example for others to identify with. In the words of Fidel Castro, 'I think that it is this spirit that really frightens the reactionaries and the imperialists, because this spirit is invincible''. (7)
It has also been noted by Tad Szule, a New York Times journalist who covered Latin American regional affairs for many years, that 'there is no question when Fidel Castro speaks Latin Americans listen'. (8) Cuba had the distinct position of being able to provide direct links between struggles in Latin America and Africa. When Fidel Castro toured Africa in the 1970s, President Ahmen Sekou Toure of Guinea, told an audience, 'Cuba is the light in Latin America'. (9) The high-level diplomatic meetings between Cuba and Guinea were subsequently used 'to coordinate Cuban support for guerrilla movements against Portuguese colonial rule'. (10)
Furthermore, by the time Castro set foot in Africa, there was no African left-of-centre government or liberation movement that did not have Cuban ties of some sort'. (11) The success of Cuba to win vital support in Africa was attributed to the fact that 'Cuba's cultural origins were partly African, and the Afro-Cuban tradition was powerful'. (12)
For decades Cuba has stood by the poor and oppressed and spoken on behalf of those, often forgotten, with no voice of their own. And while Fidel died in 2016, a new generation of political leaders including President Miguel Diaz-Canel, have emerged to carry Cuba into the future.
It is therefore no surprise that Cuba has stated that 'the imperialist enemies try and attack with crude lies' the achievements of the Cuban Revolution which have stood for over sixty years. (13) The battle of ideas has seen the controllers of Facebook recently remove a pro-President Maduro article from the Cuban national newspaper, Granma, from their website. (14) They clearly do not want ordinary people to read the truth about Venezuela and the US Cold War position toward President Maduro.
And behind the demagogy and lies of President Trump, lurking in the wings of the White House and Pentagon, reside far-right figures with hidden agendas: they seek to channel economic and social resentments into nationalist and racialist typology. Their chosen political ideology is based upon anti-dimensions: anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist, anti- cosmopolitan, anti-multicultural with specific reference to Hispanic peoples from Central and Latin America, and anti-feminist. (15) The ideology remains essentially fascistic, although hidden within seemingly democratic political structures for the time being. Those concerned have planned that 'the second coming of fascism would like quite different from the first', and these are considered, as yet, early days. (16)
The recent moves, by the Trump administration also form part of a massive reaction inside US diplomacy away from a softer approach adopted by the previous Obama administrations. President Obama, for example, rationalised US-Cuba relations, claiming that 'decades of tough measures had failed to topple the Castro government'. (17) A different course was chosen; Obama visited Cuba for talks in Havana about ending the US-led blockade of the country.
US-Cuba relations have now entered into a new phase.
There is little doubt the Trump administration aims to escalate tensions toward Cuba, although the problem may well be resolved in forthcoming presidential elections. Trump is very likely to be a one-term president, if not impeached beforehand.
Another consideration, however, is the significance and continued importance of solidarity work with Cuba.
Cuba, officially, has more than two thousand solidarity organisations across 159 countries which will now become vitally important in the struggle against the tyranny of present-day US imperialism! (18)
Ever Onward to Victory!
1. U.S. Targets 'Troika of Tyranny', Australian, 1 February 2019.
3. Cuba and Angola, Fighting for Africa's Freedom and Our Own, (Sydney, 2013), page 9.
4. Quoted: The CIA's Australian Connection, Denis Freney, (Sydney, 1977), pp. 72-3.
5. Kissinger-Colby Briefings On CIA Called Misleading By Senate Committee, The New York Times, 16 July 1978.
6. Ibid; and, The Regional Conflict, The Contribution of the SACS during Border War Operations from 1966 to 1989, Army Signals in South Africa Walter Volker, (Pretoria, 2010), pp. 304-5, officially recorded Operation Savannah as having the Military Objective of Pre-emptive, and in support of the FNLA, which was backed by western mercenaries, and UNITA, a South African-backed Angolan rebel organisation.
7. Speech, Fidel Castro, Why Washington Fears Cuba's Example, 8 March 1985, Fidel Castro, Speeches 1984-5, War and Crisis in the Americas, (Sydney, 1985), page 200.
8. Ibid., page xv.
9. Fidel, A Critical Portrait, Tad Szule, (London, 1987), page 699.
12. Ibid., page 698.
13. Statement: New Constitution and Democratic Procedures, The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), 29 January 2019.
14. Facebook blocks posting of Cuban article on Venezuela, marks it spam, Reuters, 5 February 2019.
15. The Beast Reawakens, The chilling story of the rise of the neo-nazi movement, Martin Lee, (London, 1997), page 10.
16. Ibid., page 11.
17 Australian, op.cit., 1 February 2019.
18. Statement, ICAP. op.cit.