The Russians in Cuba

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

One can say many things right or wrong about U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba. These arguments range from ending the U.S. embargo to Cuba and allowing American tourism to the island again to helping Cuba’s dissidents to allowing those Cubans who wish to escape Cuba to be able to receive asylum in the United States. Yet there is one subject that is not being touched. I think it should be discussed. This is the Russian communications spy base in Lourdes, not far from Havana. First opened by the former Soviet Union in 1967, it was the largest Soviet military base in not only Cuba but in the America’s. Just 155 miles from the U.S. coast, the Soviets had just about every piece of military hardware (short of nuclear weapons) at Lourdes that could have been used against the United States.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the Soviet base was closed down. However, with the rise of Vladimir Putin and the growing hostility between Russia (the Soviet Union’s successor) and the United States, Putin started a major tour of Latin America, of which Cuba was one of the most important stops on the trip. Putin proposed that in exchange for forgiving Cuba’s huge debt to the former Soviet Union, the Cuban government would return the Lourdes base for Russia to be able to monitor all communications traffic with the United States (i.e. spy on the United States). The Cuban government granted this former base to Russia in 2014, and since then Russia has been again spying on the United States and its allies.

Why is this not even being brought up as a discussion? Clearly the Cuban government has given a part of its territory to a hostile foreign super-power, and how do we know that eventually this will not be used as a another military base in the future? We have no such assurances. Because Cuba is still being run by the Communist Party, we must keep in mind that the Cuban government has no loyalty, no alliance, and no partnership with the United States. These things should be kept in mind when America deals with Cuba. Whatever the Cuban people may feel, they do not have a voice in their government to freely express it. Nor do they get a choice to choose which foreign power is on their soil. While I am not arguing for the continuance of the U.S. embargo, and I do believe that we should allow Americans to go to Cuba for whatever reason, we as a nation should not be too chummy with the Communist Party of Cuba, which clearly does not have American best interests at heart.

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