The Unfinished Cold War / Carlos Alberto Montaner

Mikhail Gorbachev, and Ronald Reagan (DC)
Mikhail Gorbachev, and Ronald Reagan (DC)

14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, 16 January 2016 — Again, thousands of Cubans are preparing to enter the United States. The first have already arrived. It is an old and exhausted story. They have come in massive numbers since 1959, when the Castro brothers’ communist dictatorship began. This time they are coming via Costa Rica.

Since 1966, Cubans have received preferential treatment from United States immigration authorities. They call it the “Cuban Adjustment Act. It is one of the multiple exceptions in the complex US legislation on migration.

There are others. For example, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is awarded to thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. A dozen nationalities benefit from this measure, conceived to protect certain people from the horrors of violence or natural disasters in their countries of origin.

But there are essential differences between TPS and the Cuban Adjustment Act. The temporary protection must be periodically renewed and depends on the will of a fickle Congress. The law that affects Cuban, on the other hand, leads to obtaining official residence after one year, and citizenship after five years.

Actually, it is a double stupidity that TPS does not lead to residency and eventual citizenship. The provisional nature and lack of progressive integration into U.S. society cruelly harms immigrants and turns the “American dream” into an unnecessary nightmare, tinged by the ominous persecution of “La Migra,” the immigration authorities.

The other piece of this nonsense is the self-inflicted damage to the United States. What is best for this country, and for everyone, is working citizens who comply with the laws, create wealth, pay taxes and become a part of the mix in the legendary American “melting pot,” as happens with the vast majority of Cubans.

Cuban exceptionalism began with the rules of the Cold War. It was a predictable American response when Castro and a small group of communists, convinced of the superiority of Marxist-Leninist ideas, the benefits of the USSR, and the perfidy of the United States and its market economy, decided to create a communist dictatorship on the island.

Moscow, which knew how to organize satellites, because they had done it cruelly and efficiently in Eastern Europe after the end of the Second World War, immediately offered its unconditional support. Without delay, Soviet advisors arrived discretely on the island with the primary objective of crushing the Cuban democratic opposition and creating counterintelligence networks. Their next step would be to fill the island with nuclear missiles.

Khrushchev said, “Now the United States will know what it means to live with a dagger pointed at its neck a few miles off its coast.” It was his retaliation in response to harassment from NATO.

The United States reacted. In mid-March 1960, President Eisenhower signed a secret order authorizing covert operations to liquidate the Russian satellite installed in Cuba.

It was too late. A week earlier the Spanish-Russian general Francisco Ciutat had arrived on the island. Fidel received him and called him “Angelito” – little angel. Soon there were 40,000 Soviet soldiers and advisors. The Cold War was at its peak in the Caribbean.

Thirty years later, the European satellites broke with the USSR and the Eastern Bloc disappeared, including the Soviet Union itself. The United States’ strategy of containment had worked. The U.S. had won the Cold War.

But not everything. In Cuba and North Korea they dug trenches. Fidel Castro, extremely angry at that “traitor” Gorbachev, proclaimed, as his brother Raul applauded, “I will sink the island into the sea before abandoning Marxism-Leninism,” assuring that Cuba would remain as a communist bulwark to light the day when the planet would recover the revolutionary lucidity.

Fidel, a die-hard Stalinist, with the backing of Lula da Silva in Brazil, was given the task of collecting the rubble of communism and building with it the Sao Paulo Forum, a kind on Third International with room for all the “anti-imperialist fighters,” from FARC’s narco-guerrillas to Islamic terrorists.

Until Hugo Chavez appeared on the horizon, haloed by ignorance and irresponsibility, and loaded with petrodollars. Fidel seduced and recruited him, first to exploit him, and later to fight against economic freedom and against Washington, to the glory of the world’s poor.

Together, de pipí cogido, as the Columbians say so gracefully, in an indomitable Havana-Caracas axis, they would triumph where the USSR had crumbled, an objective and strategy that no one has denied or dismissed. Felipe Perez Roque, then Cuba’s Foreign Minister, announced it in Caracas at the end of 2005. Hasta la victoria siempre, Comandantes.

From this spirit of the Cold War – all that some backward countries could deliver – arose the dreadful fantasy of “21st Century Socialism” and the anti-U.S. circuit of ALBA, set against the FTAA promoted by the United States.

It is not true, then, as Obama assumes, that the Cold War is over. At least in Latin America Castro, Maduro, Ortega, Evo and to a lesser extent Correa are keeping it alive, with the lateral support of Dilma Rousseff and Kirchnerism, the latter happily removed from power by Mauricio Macro.

It is inconceivable that Washington ignores this unfortunate reality or continues to think that this is a “nuisance rather than a danger.” Burying one’s head in the sand has never been a smart way to confront problems.