Don’t Fall Into the Trap Again, President Diaz-Canel

Russian President, Vladímir Putin, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel. (Estudios Revolución)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 22 January 2022 — A few days ago, Mr. Díaz-Canel, Dimitri Peskov, the Russian spokesman, said candidly, “We think about how to guarantee our own security.” He was referring to statements by Sergei Riabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister, in which he, mumbling, threatened the US with deploying troops and missiles in Cuba and Venezuela if NATO continued to besiege Russia or to supply Ukraine with weapons.

Your job, Mr. President (and that of Mr. Maduro in Venezuela) is not to guarantee Russian security, but rather the well-being of Cubans (and Venezuelans). Something that is far beyond your possibilities, as long as there are no changes in the productive system that this poor country suffers from, but, at least, you can save our compatriots the bitterness of another defeat and the anxiety of losing their lives uselessly.

For that same reason, in October 1962 the “Missile Crisis” broke out in Cuba. You were very young, and you don’t know how the events occurred. The USSR wanted to target the heart of the United States, but John F. Kennedy put his country on a war footing and prepared to fight if there was no other choice.

On that occasion, Fidel Castro sent an encrypted telegram asking the Russian Premier to preventively bombard the United States with nuclear weapons. Nikita Khrushchev replied that he was a fool and dismissed his crazy initiative. Cuba would have remained a smoking, radioactive hole for half a century. It was an operatic ending for a raving madman.

I was living in Miami then, I was 19 years old, and I took several dozen young Cubans to the US Army with the promise that we would land in Cuba. “Tony” Varona, returning from Washington where he met with JFK advisors, assured me of this and I repeated his words to the boys. Varona was one of the leaders of the resistance, former Prime Minister of democratic Cuba, and a fundamentally honest person. He had a son imprisoned in Cuba after the landing at the Bay of Pigs

Fortunately, that did not happen. We all would have died. The Soviet colonels – there were 40,000 Russian soldiers in Cuba – had tactical nuclear weapons that they could use at will. That was found out many years later. They would have launched them against us, which would have generated an atomic war between the USSR and the United States in a short time.

There was even an episode in which the direct confrontation between a landing of the United States army and the Soviet troops stationed in Cuba was not necessary to ignite the spark. Many years after the incident, it was learned that a Soviet submarine broke through the US Navy’s blockade during the “October Crisis.” It was equipped with a nuclear charge that would have shattered an aircraft carrier and its attack flotilla, a fact unknown to the Americans.

The Americans launched depth charges to bring it to the surface. The submarine had lost contact with its base and its crew didn’t know if the war had already begun. According to the rules for launching an attack, all three commanding officers had to agree: the captain, the first mate, and the second mate. The captain and the first officer thought that the fighting had already begun, but the second mate, named Vasili Arkhipov, didn’t believe in that possibility and persuaded his two companions not to fight back. He was a hero of whom nothing was known until many years later.

In 1962 Marxism-Leninism was actually a vaguely credible option. Nikita claimed that in 10, 20 or 30 years the USSR would be on a par with the US. The Soviets had inaugurated the space age with the Sputnik and “the power of the Soviets plus electricity,” as Lenin wanted, was paying off, especially after the devastation of World War II. There were urban areas that grew at 10% per year.

But it was a matter of ignorance. One had only to read the book entitled Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, written by Ludwig von Mises in 1922 (probably written for Lenin, then in his heyday), about the failure of the price system under socialism, and how it would end up producing a monstrous distortion that would make economic calculation totally impossible. However, in 1962 it was not necessary to resort to reading or theoretical analysis. It was enough to compare the results of the two Germanys to know what would happen in one and the other system after a few years.

In short, Mr. Díaz-Canel, Putin is playing with fire and he’s going to burn himself. The British have sold the Ukrainians hundreds and hundreds of state-of-the-art weapons that are fired from the shoulder at tanks and artillery pieces. Estonia is used to deliver Israel’s Spikes missiles against aviation to Kiev. To direct the presumed war, the US has installed its headquarters in Albania, the most anti-Soviet of the former satellites of the USSR. France, England and the US guarantee that Russia will not use nuclear warheads. NATO under Biden is working reasonably well. What are you going to get into that war for, President? It is a grave for Russia. Do you them to bury you in it?

The size of the Russian economy is roughly that of Italy, but Italians are less than half the population of Russia. Putin is making the same mistake as his predecessors. They see that they have the largest nation on earth (approximately twice the size of the US or China) and from this they deduce that they can develop an empire. In 1991 it was seen to be “Bangladesh with missiles,” as US diplomat Jeanne Kirkpatrick used to say. Only 32% of Russians want to revitalize the empire; 68% presumably want to live better. Like the Cubans, señor Díaz-Canel. Cubans want to pursue their own dreams and not those of the leaders. When will you learn your lesson,  president?


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