Cuba-US diplomacy – Victory for Latin America

Cuba-2The contrast between the celebrations in Cuba and Latin America and the grudging acknowledgement of the change in US policy among American politicians is stark and instructive. Obama admitted the US policy of isolating Cuba had been defeated. For half a century the US has attacked its economy through the embargo, financed the failed invasion of the ‘Bay of Pigs’ and attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro hundreds of times. Obama said: ‘We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result’.

The Cuban government on the other hand has maintained a consistent policy of offering normal diplomatic relations on the basis of equality and respect for sovereignty. Having defeated the US invasion they were never again intimidated and this led to them to support other anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles.

Cuban support in Africa was key to the defeat of apartheid, when the Cuban air force and army together with Angolan and South African fighters defeated pro-apartheid forces. Mandela acknowledged and thanked Cuba for their help, which greatly annoyed western leaders.

A few weeks ago, having led the aid effort against Ebola in Africa, with the largest contingent of medical workers, Cuba offered to work with US helpers. The American army had sent logistical support to build temporary health centres but not medical personnel. The US government was embarrassed by the American media into responding, saying that they would cooperate, while doing nothing in practice.

US Isolation and Latin American Unity

The US defeat is clearest in its isolation. In the UN the last vote against its embargo was supported by every country except the US and Israel with abstentions by the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

Cuba-1bThe change in Latin America is dramatic; in the 1960s US hegemony was almost total. In 1962, because the US dominated the Organisation of American States (OAS), Cuba was suspended, so it could not send its representatives to meetings. During the debate on the US motion, Che Guevara gave a long speech denouncing US imperialist control and showing clearly the links between US and capitalist control in the Americas and the poverty, state violence and oppression in the continent. Millions of people including school children stopped classes to listen to the speech live on radio. It was one of the greatest educational events in Latin America.

Today all the Latin American and Caribbean nations belong to CELAC, a political alliance which excludes the US and Canada. UNASUR, which unites all the South American States, is hugely influential and active in fighting ultra right and fascist destabilisation activities supported by US organisations, such as those in Venezuela and Ecuador. ‘No more Pinochets in Latin America’ is now a popular slogan.

Ten years after its formation, on the initiative of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America) has expanded from 5 to 11 countries with 75 million people, 10% of the population of Latin America. Its cooperative and progressive policies have provided an ideological leadership, which is highly influential. Many countries, which currently are not members, have friendly relations with the ALBA countries and these include the largest, Argentina and Brazil.

ALBA has now expanded its scope to promote trade and it has changed its name to ALBA-TCP (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty ) to reflect this. Its membership is: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Santa Lucia, San Vicente and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. Cuba and Latin America now have cooperative and trade relations with China, Japan and Russia, Africa and even the EU.

Isolation is now a problem for the US. To change this it will have to go much further. Opening relations with Cuba while imposing sanctions on Venezuela shows that Obama is still a servant of the most reactionary sections of US capital.

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