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Is Communist China Colonizing Cuba?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File

Is history repeating itself in Cuba? Is Communist China using its Belt and Road Initiative to turn Cuba into a dependent colony like it was under the former Soviet Union? Is Cuba about to become Communist China's first military base in the Western Hemisphere?

These are important questions. Why? Because the closest the world has ever come to a nuclear holocaust occurred in 1962 after the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, allowed his country to become a vassal state of the former Soviet Union. When Castro seized power in 1959 by overthrowing Cuban autocrat Fulgencio Batista, he promised the Cuban people an end to poverty, illiteracy and widespread public health problems. Unable to follow through on his promises, Castro turned to the Soviet Union for help.

In so doing, he allowed Cuba to become a virtual Soviet colony, dependent on its power-hungry, anti-American despot, Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev was quick to use his iron-fisted hold over Cuba to move against the United States. He demanded Castro allow construction of a sophisticated signals intelligence site at Lourdes, Cuba, and bases, less than 100 miles from our shores, for ballistic nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at the United States. When American reconnaissance aircraft revealed their presence, the world teetered on the edge of nuclear war for 14 days as President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev engaged in the most dangerous game of cat and mouse ever played.

Now, history appears to be repeating itself, but this time the aggressor is Xi Jinping, the totalitarian head of the People's Republic of China. Whereas Khrushchev was boastful and bombastic, Xi is cunning, devious and deceitful. He is wrapping the PRC's slimy tentacles around Cuba under the guise of economic assistance through its Belt and Road programs.

The innocent sounding Belt and Road Initiative is the PRC's strategy for gaining control of economically weak nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America by saddling them with debt they cannot repay. The PRC provides loans, primarily to poorer nations, for badly needed infrastructure projects. When, predictably, these nations cannot repay the loans, they become puppets of Communist China. Using Belt and Road agreements, the PRC gains not just influence over third-world nations, it gains control. The debtor nations find themselves in the same unenviable position as the person who borrows money from the Mafia and cannot pay it back. The Mafia owns him or her from that point forward.

On Dec. 26, 2021, the Chinese embassy in Havana announced He Lifeng, director of the PRC's National Development and Reform Commission, signed a Belt and Road agreement with the Cuban government. With this compact, Cuba became another on a growing list of nations surrendering their sovereignty to Communist China.

For an example of how the PRC uses Belt and Road agreements, consider what happened in Sri Lanka. When the Sri Lankan government was unable to repay a loan of $1.4 billion, the PRC seized the port of Hambantota and demanded a 99-year lease to operate it.

Although Communist China aims its Belt and Road agreements primarily at countries rich in essential minerals such as Cuba, one would be naive to believe all Xi wants from Cuba is minerals. Retired Admiral Craig Faller warned during a Senate hearing in March 2021 the PRC's objectives were to "establish global logistics and basing infrastructure in our hemisphere in order to project and sustain military power at greater distances." Faller described the PRC's intentions as "insidious," "corrosive" and "corrupt."

We agree with Faller. Xi is trying to pick up where Khrushchev left off but is smarter in how he goes about it. For Xi, step one is to economically colonize Cuba. Step two is to turn Cuba into a Communist Chinese military base in the Caribbean.

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