Reports from Cuba: The Cuban ‘paquetazo’ moves to the rhythm of Russian demands

Yoani Sanchez writes in 14yMedio from Havana via Translating Cuba:

The Cuban ‘Paquetazo’ Moves to the Rhythm of Russian Demands

It does not seem a coincidence that, after the postponement of the start of the ‘package’, we had the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov

Lavrov, Patrushev and Titov. We Cubans get lost among so many surnames of high-ranking Russian officials who arrive in Cuba. The procession, which has grown in number and frequency in recent months, coincides with official announcements of economic measures. It is very difficult to remove the Kremlin from the national equation when Vladimir Putin’s envoys arrive on the island and, shortly after, tariff adjustments are published in the Official Gazette or new prices are made effective at gas stations and electricity bills.

This Thursday, the head of the Russia-Cuba Business Council, Boris Titov, arrives in Havana, and will stay on the Island until March 7. A long visit that, in advance, has all the traces of a review, of a meticulous inspection to verify where the vague promises that Cuban officials must have made to the ears of the Russians, to extract investments and support, have played out. A dance of seduction that has worked with others but is now being performed before “clients” who know very well the false tricks of Castroism.

It does not seem a coincidence that after the postponement of the start of the paquetazo*, which raised the prices of fuel and electricity, we had the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and, later, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev. Both in the second half of February, the month initially chosen to begin measures that will make life on the Island more expensive and generate great social unrest. After his departure, the application of the new prices to take effect on March 1 has finally been announced.

It seems that Miguel Díaz-Canel has been showered with scoldings from Moscow. For Putin, it is not enough to agree, we must comply. His men have come to demand accountability in Havana and the clumsy officials of the Cuban Communist Party have only managed to do what they know best. Initially they have chosen to stretch the times and negotiate new deadlines, only to end up giving in to the powerful patron of the day.

In front of the eyes of the citizens, the Russians seem to be sneaking into every crevice of national life. The intergovernmental commission led by Titov examines and makes agreements in areas as diverse as the economic, financial, energy, transportation, agriculture, communications, health, education and tourism. Even though not recognized by either regime, the presence of Cuban mercenaries fighting for the Russian side in the invasion of Ukraine also makes the link between Castroism and Putinism closer.

The official press of the Island has adopted the script that the Kremlin imposes on its national media. Both there and here, Russian defeats on the battlefield are not published, Volodymyr Zelensky’s name must always be accompanied by the worst adjectives, and the invasion is only a “special operation” for the Russian homeland to recover what belongs to it, what was once taken from it. Every day, the publications of Sputnik and Granma become more similar. There are hardly any differences between RIA Nóvosti and Prensa Latina when it comes to news about Europe and the United States.

Both regimes have been synchronizing speeches in recent years, aligning their political narrative at various points and strengthening ties, some visible and others under the cloak of secrecy. But Cuba is a small country, an island with hardly any natural resources and an economy destroyed by inefficiency and mismanagement. Getting too close to Moscow’s voracity is a very dangerous move because Russia asks its allies for much more than handshakes and formal visits.

Within this obedient delivery is the act of serving as a springboard for disinformation campaigns and acting as a bridge with Latin America so that Putin can wash his image and undermine solidarity with Kiev. The Kremlin does not give support without asking for anything in return and these are times of direct requests and excessive demands.

When Moscow lands it does so with everything. Sometimes destroying the treads of their tanks, other times crushing with their misinformation and adjustments.

*Translator’s note: ‘Paquete’ means ‘package’, while the ‘azo’ added to the end implies a ‘forceful blow’.

1 thought on “Reports from Cuba: The Cuban ‘paquetazo’ moves to the rhythm of Russian demands”

  1. The Castronoids have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They figure subordinating Cuba to Russia worked for them before and expect it will work again. There is zero shame and zero dignity–it’s a purely pragmatic matter focused squarely on the regime’s needs and perpetuation. Nothing to do with “the people.”

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