14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 22 June 2023 — The stalls were full of colorful magazines. To my childish mind, the Soviet Union was that place of intense colors, steaming bowls of soup, and smiling peasants seen in the photos of the many publications that came to Cuba in the 1980s. But beyond the propaganda, Moscow was , in fact, like a huge bear that held up the Island. It hugged us roughly: it controlled and propped up the whole country.
Cuban sovereignty has always been the preferred theme of patriotic speeches and the justification for refusing aid, rapprochement and dialogue, but there are few nations on the planet as in need of external support and foreign support as this one. Even the “golden age” of our insular socialism was nothing more than a period of time in which the Russian subsidy made it possible to supply the markets, build schools and finance all the nonsense that Fidel Castro came up with. The Kremlin paid for a showcase in our territory to attract the unsuspecting who believed that this false bonanza was the fruit of the development achieved from the chosen political system.
As soon as the USSR imploded, our bubble also burst. Curiously, the measures that Castro took to prevent social protests and the fall of the regime implied handing over new portions of sovereignty, but, on this occasion, not to Soviet comrades but to foreign investors who wanted to put their dollars on the Island. The cycle of dependency continued and, at the end of the last century, with the rise to power of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Havana found an oil patron willing to finance its failed economic model. We return to ‘tick’ diplomacy, that most practiced in the last six decades.
Now, Miguel Díaz-Canel winks at Vladimir Putin so that the Russian bear once again carries our weight and sustains us. The leaders of the Cuban Communist Party have the illusion that money will begin to flow from full hands, oil tankers will bring huge amounts of hydrocarbons from the Eurasian giant, free or at ridiculous prices, and Moscow will assume the costs of keeping this broken island afloat. The word “sovereignty” will continue to be reserved for official tantrums before international organizations, while Putin’s interference in our affairs will grow every day.
Like a flag, painted on a wall in the neighborhood of La Víbora in Havana, which cannot be stand on its own without crude propping, Cuba is today a country that cannot even provide itself with eggs, sugar or coffee. The force of gravity pulls the wall to the ground with the same force that reality pushes the Cuban political system towards its extinction. The sovereign star is faded and a crack threatens to split it in two. It will end up collapsing and perhaps claiming a few lives in the fall. There is no beam that can withstand such weight, nor ally that can support much failure.
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