Perhaps the concern I feel over the recent visit of Russian President Dimitri A. Medvedev to Cuba is due to my natural incompetence in economic matters, but in truth reading the first item on his agenda leaves little room for doubt. The Russian Prime Minister clearly establishes as the primary purpose of his visit, to establish a “Convention on the regularization of the debt of the Republic of Cuba to the Russian Federation for credits granted in the period of the former USSR.”
It couldn’t have been stated more clearly if it were etched in stone. Any malcontent could get the impression that Comrade Medvedev came to hand us the bill for everything having to do with Russian for the three decades of “cooperation” during the Soviet era. However much this issue is decorated or obscured with the other nine points which are of little importance, that time of Russian dreams has been left definitively in the past by this generation of Russian politicians and they’re giving us a clear and concise message: the seem disposed to collect everything they are owed, down to the last centavo.
I recently reflected on the post-war period and how much a society can progress through an opportune focusing of its efforts. A little more than a decade after the Second World War, Europe was completely changed. Cities flattened by Nazi bombs were rebuilt in the carefree abandon of the ‘60s, and the same thing happened in Japan, once it was stripped of it military ballast. The world watched how, despite the nuclear aftermath, the land of the rising sun rebuilt at a dizzying speed and became a world economic power. A similar evolution occurred in Germany, with all its cities bombed by the RAF, including Berlin having been attacked by the artillery of the Red Army.
However, after three decades of broad Soviet economic protection — equivalent to a Marshall Plan designed especially for us — left us unable to take flight. The fact is, we have given history an eloquent example of how to waste such an opportunity.
But, as it was in the past it continues to be today, and Moscow doesn’t believe in tears. Now Comrade Mededev arrives, at this time and with that message, which could not come at a more inopportune time, no matter how one depreciates the amount for the differences in the value of the old ruble and the agreement to pay in a decade.
Watching the press conference I saw something — arrogance? — in the gestures of the Russian, and something else — worry? — on the face of our President Raul. To tell the truth, I don’t know where we are going to get everything we would need to pay back for thirty years of resources wasted by the handful — I wonder if this would be possible — because at that time no one knew — not the KGB, nor the CIA, not even God — that there would be glasnost, or perestroika, and that someone would one day postulate, for good or ill, the apparent end of history.