Russian president Vladimir “Teflon” Putin is on a roll—or so we’re led to believe by the media. The Russian president combines the slick machismo of James Bond, the cojones of George Patton and the craftiness of Cardinal Richelieu.
Actually, in his dealings with Cuba, Putin looks more like Barney Fife. We’re not accustomed to seeing Mr Macho-Cool Vladimir Putin made an international jackass. But many Cuba-watchers snickered as the hapless Russian President met with the Castro brothers on July 11th and “wrote off” their $32 billion debt to the Soviet Union.
“That old thing? I never liked it anyway,” Cuba-watchers easily imagine Putin hissing through gritted teeth. "We will provide support to our Cuban friends to overcome the illegal blockade of Cuba," is what Putin actually hissed for the record.
Vladimir Putin rose to the rank of Lieut. Colonel in an organization that tortured and murdered at roughly TWICE the rate of the Nazi SS. So his offense at the “illegal” U.S. embargo of a KGB-founded, terror-sponsoring regime should provoke only chortling and snorting. Instead it’s probably causing a fit of the vapors at the State Dept. and in faculty lounges nationwide.
Not that Putin left Cuba completely empty-handed. Instead the Russians reclaimed the Evil Empire’s largest foreign spying base, located in Lourdes just south of Havana. The Soviets built this complex-- capable of electronic spying on everything from the U.S. Military’s Central and Southern command to NASA facilities-- in 1967 and manned it until 2001. That year financial problems and pressure from the U.S. forced the Russians to close and abandon it. Interestingly it was (then) Russian President Vladimir Putin who felt compelled to lock it up and scurry out.
This re-colonization by the Russians of a spy base on our very borders is obviously important, but surely a true Russian Richelieu could have reclaimed the base for less than $32 billion, especially with an Obama in the White House.
Putin’s visit to the colonial outpost his “old” outfit (the KGB) helped convert from a vibrant capitalist nation swamped with European immigrants into a vast sewer, slum and prison that repels even impoverished Haitians disgusted most Cuban dissidents. The loathing of most Cubans (including many communists) for Che Guevara owed much to Guevara's groupie-like devotion to the Soviets who infested Cuba and roundly repelled almost all Cubans.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.