SocialismToday           Socialist Party magazine

Socialism Today 119 - June 2008

A change in US strategy on Cuba

US GOVERNMENT plans for funding organisations working in Cuba indicate a significant change in strategy, with a move away from its traditional reliance on Miami’s Cuban-American groups towards building an international alliance.

As is well documented, the US has been obsessed with Cuba ever since its revolution in 1959. Even its normally compliant Western European allies have continued to trade with Cuba throughout this period and have also voted in favour of Cuban-sponsored UN votes to end the US embargo.

Miami-based organisations run by anti-Castro Cuban-Americans have long been funded by State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) grants to manufacture and support an internal opposition in Cuba with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the government.

This strategy has failed to effect any notable changes in Cuba or on world opinion, with the US viewed as being increasingly isolated on its stance.

This year, the State Department and USAID are to award $45.7 million in ‘Cuba democracy’ grants, which is more than triple the 2007 levels. This would suggest that the retirement of Fidel Castro has given impetus to an invigorated effort by the US to bring about a change of government.

Unlike in previous years, grants are to be awarded by competitive bids and officials are urging Eastern European and Latin American groups to apply.

Miami-based anti-Castro groups, which have benefited for many years from generous US government funding are said to be deeply concerned about this change of strategy, which is likely to restrict the grants made available to them.

It would appear that the US is actively seeking allies in its bid to overthrow the Cuban government. Developing, supporting and financing a US-friendly internal opposition movement in Cuba via a range of organisations based in Eastern Europe and Latin America would help to build alliances with other nations and would reduce the perception that the US is acting alone in its intervention in Cuba’s affairs.

Indeed, funding provided to the Czech group People In Need by US government agencies, Cuban-American groups (themselves funded by US government agencies) and the Czech government has been used to establish a network of around 20 European organisations working in Cuba.

The Miami Herald reported that the Bush administration is keen for Cuban activists to be provided with communications technologies with a view to replicating the anti-government movements in Tibet and Burma, which were propelled by the use of the internet and mobile phones.

In a speech in Washington on 24 October 2007, President George Bush made it clear that his administration was focused on instigating the demise of the Cuban government and was not concerned about the prospect of things becoming chaotic on the island. "The operative word in our future dealings with Cuba is not stability", he said, "the operative word is freedom".

The US is already preparing for such an eventuality by starting to build a $16.5 million camp in Guantanamo Bay that could house up to 10,000 people fleeing Cuba. Plans are also in place to build a second camp there to accommodate a further 35,000 people at a cost of $110 million.

Mark Lynch


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