Category Archives: Cuba

Cuba’s Deepening Connection to Russia in the 21st Century

A graduate of both Harvard University and Yale College, Jorge I. Dominguez is a writer and publisher. His books primarily focus on the economic and social situation in Cuba, though he has edited books relating to Mexico and wider Latin America. Jorge I. Dominguez is interested in how Cuba’s relationship with the United States has evolved over the decades.

Interestingly, we may see another change in the relationship between the United States and Cuba in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Throughout 2022, Russia’s ties to Cuba have deepened. In January, Russian delegate Sergei Ryabkov refused to rule out the possibility that Russia may set up a military presence in Cuba.

Furthermore, both nations have committed to exploring options in other areas. According to Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, the island is working with Russia on joint projects related to industry, transport, banking, and energy. Cuba has also refused to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and it has blamed the crisis on alleged U.S. and NATO aggression against Russia.

The renewed development of these ties between Russia and Cuba brings to mind the relationship the Soviet Union had with the island in the 1960s. Russia has even implied that the United States’ continued opposition to Russia’s advance into Ukraine could evoke the dimensions of conflict not seen since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

How the Cuban Missile Crisis Unfolded

Possessing a background in international relations at Harvard University, Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez has spent much of his career researching and writing about the Latin American political landscape. He has been on the editorial board of various journals, including Political Science Quarterly and Cuban Studies. Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez has also authored and edited numerous books on the US-Cuba relationship, which experienced a dramatic shift in the early 1960s.

As explored in an NBC piece and numerous books and articles, the Cuban Missile Crisis has defined US-Cuba policy since taking place 60 years ago. Cuba’s government had entered into an alliance with Soviet leaders, expropriated billions of dollars of US assets, and fought a U.S.-sponsored Cuban exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs..

In 1962, USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev made good on his long-standing promise to supply Fidel Castro with Soviet arms. Allied intelligence learned that missile components were being sent to Cuba by ship. At the same time, US U-2 spy plane pictures confirmed that missile facilities were being built in Cuba capable of harboring a nuclear threat that could reach the United States.

Upon learning that the additional Soviet materials for ballistic missiles were en route by ship, President John Kennedy convened with the National Security Council. After considering offensive options such as an air strike targeting missile sites, Kennedy finally opted for a naval blockade, or “quarantine,” which would prevent arms shipments from reaching Cuba.

Ultimately, this defensive approach proved successful, as Khrushchev blinked first and announced that missile parts already delivered to Cuba would be sent back and no more work would take place on missile sites. In turn, the U.S. withdrew its Jupiter missiles from Turkey. Moreover, the long-term impact of this incident was strict US sanctions against Cuba that have lasted until the present.

US-Cuban Bilateral Relations Show Renewed Potential

With a research focus on Latin America, Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez was active on the Harvard University faculty for many years as professor and vice provost for international affairs. An area of in-depth scholarship for Dr. Dominguez has been Cuba’s governance under Communist leaders and he authored an article in 2021 called “U.S. Policy toward Cuba: What Should the Biden Administration Do?”

As Dr. Dominguez views it, a key decision point has been whether Trump administration sanctions should be sustained, within the context of the Cuban government’s 2020 economic reforms. If past history is a guide, sanctions have largely been unnecessary and ineffectual, even as Cuba has instituted “market-conforming economic policy changes” several times since the early 1970s.

When the Trump administration repeatedly instituted sanctions, Cuba’s government refused to budge. With US interests not furthered by those actions, the only real outcome was pain for ordinary Cubans. Investment-enabling US remittances were capped and US visitor flow cut off.

When Cuba finally announced economic reforms, this was in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and a shutdown in international tourism, rather than US pressure. In addition, these reforms were only instituted after it was clear Biden had won the presidency. Reforms included a new authorized private sector activities, as well as a move toward a single currency. With the Cuban government providing evidence that it was willing to move further in a direction initiated under Obama, the recommended course for Biden is to move back toward a cooperative US-Cuban bilateral stance.

Cuba Economic Changes and Discontent in 2021

Money, Home, Coin, Investment, Business

A New Hampshire resident, Jorge I. Dominguez graduated from Harvard University and holds a Ph.D. in political science. Jorge Dominguez served in the past as a professor and chair of international and area studies at Harvard. Jorge I. Dominguez is also an author and published The Cuban Economy in a New Era.

Cuba is undergoing huge economic changes in 2021 due to the pandemic and coronavirus. The state seems to have hit a new low with people being discontent about the rising of prices and the decrease of wages once adjusted for high inflation increases. After shrinking the economy by 11 percent in 2020, the crisis has extended to 2021. Cuba has a command economy, which means the government mainly decides and determines the prices of goods, as well as the production and availability of goods.

Cuba lacks private ownership of large-scale industries, properties, and resources due to the command economy. Command economy is a feature of communism, which has been present in Cuba since 1959. Recent command economy policies and the economy in general have frustrated citizens, as the fact that the production of goods is controlled by the government can lead to shortages of goods and high prices.