There is a lot of congratulating of President Obama going on among people on the left in the US over the announced agreement reached between the White House and Raul Castro to end America’s half-century isolation of the only Communist nation in the Americas.
But the congratulations are premature and naive.
Whatever the reasons for the announcement that the US and Cuba are swapping some long-held prisoners and are going to exchange embassies (The US closed its embassy in Havana in 1962), the reality is that this will not end Washington’s obsession with overthrowing the socialist government installed in 1959 by Fidel Castro’s successful anti-imperialist armed rebellion.
Not only does having an American embassy in your country not mean your country will be left alone by the imperialist Washington — it means that in the heart of your national capital, you will have a diplomatically protected headquarters for agents working for the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and a host of other Washington three-letter spy outfits.
Look at Venezuela, where the US has an embassy out of which it has run operations ever since the initial election of the late Hugo Chavez seeking to topple the elected leadership of that oil-rich nation. Look at Honduras, where the US has long had an embassy which only recently played a key role in the overthrow and exile of that country’s progressive elected president. Look at Ukraine, where the US had an embassy that was the command center for a CIA-led program that ultimately orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovich. And look at Pakistan, where a few years ago, with the arrest of a CIA contractor working undercover in the US consulate in Lahore for the brazen day-light cold-blooded murder of two young Pakistani intelligence agents, and the outing, over a short period, of three CIA station chiefs, all working under diplomatic cover, we learned that the US embassy was running a program of civilian bombings designed to foment fratricidal religious conflict in that country.
That of course is only a partial list of US diplomatic perfidy, but it should be noted that all of it refers to activities that were conducted during the Obama administration, which has enthusiastically carried on the long tradition of using embassies as cover not just for spies, but as headquarters for subversive operations against governments the US would prefer to undermine or overthrow.
Cuba should — and certainly after experiencing 50-plus years of furious efforts by the US to overthrow its government and kill its leaders — will be on its guard against such a use, or rather misuse of America’s embassy and seeming willingness to call off its state of war against the Cuban nation and Cuban people.
The Obama decision, reportedly aided by the intercession of Pope Francis, to end the US policy of overt hostility towards Cuba, should not be seen as some uncharacteristic act of rational, humanitarian policy by this war-mongering president who has proven to be so good at saying one thing and doing another.
Both Cuba and the US have been forced into this public rapprochement. Cuba, for its part, has been crippled for decades by the US embargo — the longest continuous embargo of a nation in history, and one which by some accounts has cost the tiny island nation of 11.3 million people, with a 2014 Gross Domestic Product of less than $70 billion, about $1 trillion in lost economic activity — a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions. Since the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been a primary supporter of Cuba during much of the embargo, Cuba, frozen out of the world banking system by the US embargo, and barred from trading with many nations by the bullying of the US, has had to rely on the aid of Venezuela and other progressive nations, but now with oil prices slumping, Venezuela, itself a target of US hostility, is in no position to aid Cuba. The country needed to do something to break out of its enforced isolation.
But the US, too, has been feeling the heat. Across South America, democratic nations have thrown off repressive and subservient conservative regimes and installed progressive governments that have begun to work together to resist US imperial edicts. From Uruguay to Venezuela, from Chile to Bolivia, and even in Argentina, where the government, while not particularly leftist, has stood against the pressures of the US-led international banking industry, the US has found itself increasingly isolated. And a particular sore point across the entire Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Americas has long been American hostility towards Cuba.
Cuba is a nation highly regarded by the peoples of Latin America, not just for its heroic resistance to Tio Sam, but because of the good work it has done there, in running literacy campaigns and especially providing doctors and other medical workers, not just during emergencies, but on a routine basis.
With China making huge inroads into the economies of Latin America, and with Brazil lining up with both China and Russia in increasingly successful efforts to break away from the dollar-dominated global economy, the US has to be worried about its increasing isolation in what it used to obscenely refer to as America’s “back yard.”
But anyone who thinks that this is the end of decades of US intrigue and subversion aimed at Cuba, or that this president who has so embraced a militarist policy of might makes right has suddenly “seen the light” and is trying to bring the rogue US back into the community of law-abiding nations, should note that even as he announced the agreement to clear away the cobwebs and remove the dust-laden sheets from the furniture in the American Embassy in Havana the president supported new sanctions against Russia, arms for the fascist government in Ukraine, and new sanctions against Venezuela.
This agreement with Cuba is a small step forward, and a necessary one for both the US and for Cuba, but it is, for the Cuban people, and the people of the world, a gift horse that needs its festering mouth closely inspected. To switch metaphors, it is also a Trojan horse whose insides need to be carefully probed before the gates in Havana are thrown open.