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Yearbook 2009

Cuba. According to countryaah, Cuba's former President Fidel Castro, in his often-published "reflections," cautiously welcomed US newly-elected President Barack Obama in January, saying, among other things, that he trusted his honorable intentions. Later in the year, Obama also made a gesture toward Cuba by removing restrictions on exile Cubans in the United States to visit their old homeland and to send money there, measures introduced by the much more aggressive George W. Bush in his Cuban policy.

However, in a PM, Obama made it clear that the purpose of his policy is the same as his representative's - to create circumstances that could favor political change in Cuba. Hopes that the almost 50-year-old trade embargo would be lifted were also set aside by Vice President Joe Biden. At the July celebration of the 56th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks, which is considered the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, anti-American rhetoric was fairly absent in President Raúl Castro's speech.

A major government transformation took place in early March when, among other things, several of Fidel Castro's confidants disappeared, such as the influential Deputy Chairman of the Council of State Carlos Lage and the acknowledged dogmatic Felipe Pérez Roque. Most analysts interpreted the changes as a shift from fidelistas to raulistas, ie. from Fidel's political circle to his brother and current President Rauls.

2009 Cuba

Relationship with the rest of the world

Cuba has traditionally held a very vulnerable position. Both because of the location close to the US and because of the strong political and economic dependence on this country. During the first years after the revolution, the United States destroyed these relations and at the same time gave open support to anti-castro groups seeking to overthrow the revolutionary regime. The deterioration of the relationship between the two countries initially culminated with the US funded invasion of the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and the following year with the missile crisis. In fact, Cuba had no choice when it was offered comprehensive financial assistance from the Soviet Union and the other COMECON countries. China's support immediately after the revolution gradually turned to hostility in 1966-67 as the ideological conflict between the Soviet and China developed. Cuba's increasingly strong economic dependence on the Soviet forced more or less the country to take on the Soviet Party in this conflict. There can be no doubt that the Soviet's very comprehensive aid programs since the 1960's have been absolutely necessary for the revolution to survive. Cuba was secured fixed prices for its sugar exports and received more oil than the country needed. It could be sold on the world market and provided Cuba with international currency. The collapse of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union therefore, in the early 1990's threw Cuba into a very deep economic crisis in which the country's international trade had to be rebuilt - almost from the ground up.

The political dependency relationship was a consequence of the economic dependency but varied greatly in strength. Until 1967, this was not particularly striking, and Castro could, among other things, allow himself to accuse the Soviet of being embarked on a capitalist path of development, for a lack of socialist solidarity, and he boycotted in 1967 the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. But in 1968, the Soviet Union went into economic counterattacks. Oil supplies on which Cuba was totally dependent were cut down, as were several industrial products. Cuba instead sought to reach a sugar harvest of 10 million tons - especially to obtain enough currency to make the country less economically dependent on the Soviet Union. But the attempt failed and instead helped to strengthen the political dependency relationship. In 1972, Cuba joined COMECON,

In the 1960's, Cuba provided very active support for the Latin American guerrilla movements and came with strong criticism from both the Soviet and Latin American Communist parties for passivity in the armed struggle. The formation of OLAS, the Latin American solidarity organization, was an important expression of Cuba's support for this struggle. But from 1968, there was a clear change in the course of Cuban foreign policy. The first clear example of this was Castro's defense of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 68. The reason for the price change was twofold: partly the economic countermeasures of the Soviet, and partly the fact that the guerrilla strategy in Latin America appeared to have failed. The year before, Che Guevara had been killed in Bolivia and several other guerrilla groups had been crushed

But even after 1968, Cuba's support for the liberation struggles in the Third World was far more unreserved than that of the Soviets. Castro did not have much left over for the Soviet principle of peaceful coexistence. He had far greater respect for the principle of proletarian internationalism. This was the background for the Cuban engagement in Africa - especially in Angola. There was a tremendous enthusiasm in Cuba for the opportunity to take an active part in the African liberation struggle - not least because of the strong ethnic ties between the black population in Cuba - the Negro slaves came precisely from the areas that today make up Angola- and the Africans.Long before the Portuguese gave up their dominions in the African colonies, Cuban civilians and military advisers cooperated with the liberation movement. But it was only after Angola was seriously threatened by South African invasion that the Cuban volunteer troops of 10-15,000 men massively joined the MPLA's side in the war. The Cubans ultimately contributed to South Africa's strategic defeat that paved the way for Namibia's independence and the collapse of the apartheid regime.

From 1979 through the 1980's, Cuba provided comprehensive financial, technical and social assistance to the governments of Panama, Grenada and Nicaragua, as well as indirect logistical support for the liberation movements in Guatemala, El Salvador and Chile. But the collapse of the revolutionary movements in Latin America and the collapse of Comecon forced in the 90's Cuba to normalize relations with the Latin American countries. It has succeeded to such an extent that today the United States is completely isolated with its boycott of the country.


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