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What Vladimir Putin and Raúl Castro want from each other

Posted on Monday, 07.21.14

What Vladimir Putin and Raúl Castro want from each other
BY CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER
ELBLOGDEMONTANER.COM

Vladimir Putin sharply made it clear that his country does not plan to
restart electronic intelligence operations at the “Lourdes” base near
Havana. That was predictable. Getting in bed with the Castros again
makes no sense at all.

The espionage installations created in Cuba in 1964 were abruptly shut
down in October 2001 by order of Putin himself. That act was not
forgiven either by Fidel Castro or the old KGBists with a nostalgia for
communism, like Putin’s former chief, Gen. Nikolai Leonov, who said so
in an interview some years ago.

In August 1991, the KGB plotted a political-military coup to liquidate
Mikhail Gorbachev and his reform policies. Twenty-four hours after the
subversive act began, Vladimir Putin, a lieutenant colonel in the KGB,
resigned his post and stood by Boris Yeltsin, the man who forced the
coup to collapse.

Although Putin was not very important in the intelligence community, his
former comrades saw him as a traitor, but on Yeltsin’s side he was a
good recruit to the Russia in retreat from its Bolshevik past.

Almost a decade later, on Dec. 31, 1999, Yeltsin, ill and an alcoholic,
resigned the presidency, leaving his disciple, Vladimir Putin, at the
helm of the Russian Federation, with the secret task to cover his back
and defend him from the (well-founded) accusations of corruption.

The two together had wreaked havoc at home. They buried the old Soviet
Union, dissolved the Communist Party, privatized the productive
apparatus and stuffed it with cronies, renounced collectivism and
central planning and transformed the intelligence services.

Yeltsin and Putin knew that Fidel Castro was an unrepentant Stalinist.
And they knew it because when Cuba’s interim ambassador to Moscow, Jesús
Renzoli, defected and fled to Finland with the help of Costa Rican
diplomat Plutarco Hernández, he revealed that some of the conspiratorial
talks to restore the Marxist-Leninist dictatorship in the Soviet Union
had been held at the Cuban Embassy in Moscow.

Nevertheless, the Lourdes base remained open during the decade of
Yeltsin’s administration. But Putin, shortly after assuming power, shut
it down, and he did it so suddenly that Fidel and Raúl Castro learned of
the new Russian leader’s decision from the press, a harsh blow to the
vanity of both personages.

Raúl was the more disillusioned. Of the two brothers, he had always
admired Russia more, to the degree that he covered the entrance to his
office with pictures of Soviet marshals and military leaders. He even
stated, in the sham trial that the brothers organized to murder Gen.
Arnaldo Ochoa and three other officers, that he, Raúl, was in reality “a
Caribbean Russian.”

So, what do Raúl Castro and Vladimir Putin want in this stage of
relations between the two countries?

The Cuban is looking for weapons to restock his rusty arsenal of 1980s
vintage, for electrical power plants, for a line of credit and
investments in the elusive search for offshore oil. As guarantee, he
offers the Venezuelan petrodollars — his permanent source of financing —
because he has nothing to export to Russia, not even Cuban doctors, who
are not needed and little respected in Russia.

The Russian, for his part, is looking around for markets for his
trinkets, especially weapons, to which end (and this is a reflection by
shrewd Bolivian politician Sánchez Berzain) he’d do well by coming to
terms with Raúl Castro, because Castro is the godfather of Venezuela,
Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador and maintains excellent relations with
Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Although poor, disoriented and shabby, Raúl, paradoxically, is the
manager of the circus and the tamer of the dwarfs.

Many years ago, when I met Boris Yeltsin, I heard him express his fear
that the KGB might paralyze his heart with some radio waves that
produced fibrillations. Yeltsin was no friend of Castro.

I don’t know if Vladimir Putin has controlled his former comrades or if
he thinks that the danger is over. Nor do I know what he really thinks
of the two Castro brothers, but I suspect that it’s nothing good.

It was in Moscow, around that time, that I heard an expression full of
contempt toward Cuba and Third-World communism: “revolutionary beggary.”
Putin wants nothing to do with that any longer.

©Firmas Press

Source: What Vladimir Putin and Raúl Castro want from each other – Other
Views – MiamiHerald.com –
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/21/4247611/what-vladimir-putin-and-raul-castro.html

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