Director del Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano-Americanos de la Universidad de Miami
(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- President Barack Obama’s announcement on December 17, 2014, about an improvement in U.S.-Cuban relations will have little, if any, impact on General Raúl Castro’s alliance with Iran, Russia and Venezuela. The close relations that these countries have developed with Cuba will not be affected. Their aid is not conditioned on changes in Cuba. They share with Castro a virulent anti-Americanism. They all share a belief that the world convergence of forces is moving against the United States. Despite economic difficulties, Cuba is unwilling to renounce these alliances and accept a role as a small Caribbean country, friendly to the United States.
Since assuming formal power in Cuba in 2006 following Fidel Castro’s illness, General Raúl Castro has continued his close alliance with Venezuela, Iran and China, and has expanded Cuba’s military cooperation with, and purchases from, Russia. Venezuela’s vast purchases of Russian and Chinese military equipment, the close Venezuela-Iran relationship and the Cuba-Venezuela alliance are troublesome. Although it is not known if Venezuela is transferring some of these weapons to Cuba, Caracas remains an open back door for Cuba’s acquisition of sophisticated Russian weapons, as well as Cuba’s principal financial backer. The objectives of this alliance are to weaken “U.S. imperialism” and to foster a world with several centers of power.
Given Cuba’s military and intelligence presence in Venezuela, it is likely that the Chavista revolution will continue its Cuban support. Even at the current low prices for petroleum, Venezuela can continue, with its vast resources, to help Cuba. Deliveries may be reduced from the current 100,000-120,000 barrels daily to some 50,000-60,000, enough to keep the Cuban economy afloat. A collapse of the Chavista revolution, while unlikely at the present time, could lead to a curtailment of Venezuelan oil. In that case, Cuba would have to look to other allies–Russia, Iran, Angola–for help.
Cuba has renewed its military cooperation with Russia. Russia’s economic and diplomatic support are important to Cuba, especially if Russia’s support forces the United States to offer unilateral concessions to Cuba beyond President Obama’s executive order establishing diplomatic relations with the island and particularly if the United States lifts its embargo and allows American tourists to visit the island.