If there are those still doubting the involvement of the Castro dictatorship in Russia’s war against Ukraine, keep in mind that it’s not the first time the Cuban regime sells mercenaries. In a report by Maria Werlau on how Russia is benefiting from Cuba’s obligatory military service, we learn how the Castro dictatorship made billions of dollars selling Cuban soldiers to fight in Angola, which began in the 1970s.
Regime earned between 4.8 and 9.6 billion dollars sending troops to Angola
The Cuban regime earned between 4.8 and 9.6 billion dollars during the 16 years of conflict in Angola, receiving approximately $1,000 dollars per month per soldier and $2,000 dollars per month per officer. This does not include their earnings from looting ivory, diamonds, precious woods, and other African assets, as indicated by researcher María C. Werlau in an article published in the media outlet Infobae.
In the article, Werlau points out how the Cuban government’s intervention in military operations around the world has always been one of its profitable ventures, thanks to the deployment of young individuals under mandatory Active Military Service (SMA) in the country.
During the Angolan war that took place between 1975 and 1991, Werlau contends that Cuban authorities paid their troops as if they were fulfilling SMA duties in Cuba: around seven pesos per month (0.71 cents in dollars) for privates and 14 pesos (1.43 dollars) for sergeants, which is between $8.50 and $17 annually, respectively.
“Some, perhaps the majority, were stationed at the frontlines for three years without being able to return home for vacation. The soldiers who did return were often mutilated, traumatized, or mentally ill; today, many live in poverty,” Werlau states.
Official Cuban press statistics cite 2,085 fatalities from the conflict, but some experts suggest the numbers are much higher.
The researcher refers to the Cuban regime’s earnings from the Angolan conflict in light of reports of Cuban citizens’ involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The participation of Cuban citizens in that conflict was confirmed in August when two 19-year-olds from the island, Andorf Velázquez García and Alex Vegas Díaz, reported that they had been deceived about a trip to Russia.
Through a video, both young men explained they had signed a contract (in Russian) to work there, but in reality, it was to join the army. Furthermore, they stated that they were without documents (which had been confiscated) and claimed that many more people were in their situation.
Shortly after, Ukrainian activists from the Cyber Resistance team provided the international volunteer organization InformNapalm with “unique evidence of the recruitment, training, and transfer to Russia of entire units of Cuban mercenaries.” The organization’s digital site displayed photos of 199 passports of Cubans recruited by the Russians.
“It is not clear how many recruits this recruitment campaign produced. Estimates from Cuban human rights groups vary between 750 recruits and over 1,000,” notes an article published by Time magazine. To date, that figure has substantially increased.
Likewise, in September, the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC) informed Time that of the 746 recruits they had tracked, at least 62 appeared to be part of the highly trained Cuban special forces unit known as the Black Wasps.
Due to the significance of the issue, the Havana regime was forced to make a statement. In this regard, Cuban official media announced that at least 17 people had been detained on the island for their involvement in a human trafficking network dedicated to recruiting Cubans to join the Russian Army.