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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Russian diplomatic chief explores ties with Cuba - commentary

Posted September 28, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Turkish Press | AFP

Havana - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday started an official visit in Cuba aimed at reinforcing ties between Cold War allies whose relations have been strained since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The communist island’s official newspaper, Granma, announced that Lavrov would have an “intense program of activities” and “official meetings,” but did not reveal details on the visit, which ends Wednesday.

Lavrov will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, but Granma did not indicate whether the two would discuss a lingering dispute over debt.

Russian diplomatic sources in Havana told AFP Lavrov’s visit was aimed at “building bridges” between the two nations instead of “widening the gulf.”

The sources said the two nations agree on the need to establish a “multipolar” world where the United Nations has a central role.

But relations have been hurt by disagreements over money. While Moscow says Havana owes 20 billion dollars, Cuba claims that Russia must pay compensation for abandoning it after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

From 1960-1991, the Soviet Union exported cheap food, fuel and financial aid to Cuba, which has been led by communist leader Fidel Castro since 1959.

Since then, Cuba has experienced severe economic hardship.

Relations have also suffered since Moscow’s 2001 decision to close a key Russian electronic listening post on the island, a move that pleased the United States but angered the Cuban leadership.

The closure cost Cuba 200 million dollars a year in rent and the departure of 1,500 Russian engineers, technicians and soldiers.

Member Comments

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On September 28, 2004, publisher wrote:

Seems as though Russia, China, Viet Nam, Spain, Canada and many other countries are actively developing relationships with Cuba while the US keeps its head stuck in the sand pretending Cuba doesn’t exist.

Can President Bush build an international military coalition against Cuba or can Cuba build an international peaceful coalitaion against the US?

Who’ going to win this “war”?

Who should win this “war”?

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On September 28, 2004, Chulo wrote:

I would hope that these engagements would help the Cuban people instead of the Cuban government.  But since the Cuban government is run by a few, with Castro as its head, then its obvious the people don’t have a say in it.  So, who’ looking out for the Cuban people? 

I would pose a different question.  Forget about the US for once, and ask which of these countries will step up and say, “yes, we will deal with you, but only as long as you open up your society.”  At least economically.  But Castro won’t even give that up.

Thus, in the end, these political engagements are just what they are, political.  No humanitarian focus at all.  And the ones that suffer are the people.  Not because of Bush, Clinton, Spain or Canada.  But because of Castro.  How sad is that my friend.  Now sad is that.

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On September 28, 2004, Jesus Perez wrote:

How large does the international peaceful coalition against the US has to be? For the last several years the UN has unanimously voted for the US to end the embargo against Cuba with only the US and Israel voting in favor of it. A lot of good that’ done. Let’ face it, in this hemisphere as in most of the world, the US can BUY it’ way around.

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On September 28, 2004, Chulo wrote:

But again, why are we focusing on the US embargo.  Unless you really believe that all of Cuba’ problems are due to this 40+ year old piece of legislation.  I think this continuous focus on “what” the US is going to do is all wrong.  The focus should be on “when” Castro is going change or “when” countries that do engage Cuba are going to step it up a notch and ask for something in return instead of profits.  Like, for example, the release of political prisoners, elections, free press, etc.

That’ the real question and should be the focus.  Forget the US for once and let’ focus on Castro.  What’ wrong with that Mr. Perez?

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On September 30, 2004, Jesus Perez wrote:

In answer to the publisher’ questions, who’ going to win this war and who should win this war? Cuba will. The proof is in the vote of the House and Senate to change our policy, it is only this administration’ efforts and pressure that is holding up the establishment of a new policy towards Cuba. Unfortunately it may take four more years, but the forces of reason will prevail.