Friday, 14 August 2015

The US, Cuba and Venezuela: Washington Pivots Back to Latin America.

“There is no peace and no rest in the development of material interests. They have their law, and their justice. But it is founded on expediency, and is inhuman; it is without rectitude, without the continuity and the force that can be found only in a moral principle.” -Nostromo, Joseph Conrad.

Only the terminally naive would believe that President Obama's decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba on July 20 2015 has that much to do with human rights. It certainly marks an official end to the prolonged Cold War status Cuba had from 1961 onwards but the decision has more to do with power politics.

The restoration of ties between the US and Cuba is not only part of Obama's attempt to play a world statesman who reached out to states previously regarded as 'rogue' states. The great unmentionable with regards warming ties is the fact that the US is interested in the fate of Cuban oil reserves.

With the end of the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism as a global force, the embargo imposed by Washington has made less and less sense other than to punish Havana. Having survived on Venezuelan energy and forming an anti-US bloc along with Chavez, the new risk to the US is growing Chinese influence.

While the US has developed shale oil and hardly needs Cuban oil, Washington would not be content allow such a strategic resource be developed by Venezuela's state-run PDVSA which at present has drilling rights. More than that the rapprochement with Cuba is part of a broader global strategy involving energy.

The US and Saudi Arabia have colluded to drive down oil prices to kick start the sluggish global economy and, in addition, through use of targeted smart sanctions and the use of covert force, a policy of unrelenting economic warfare against states that oppose US global domination from Venezuela to Iran and Russia.

The US ambition is control over oil supplies and it has deprived states such as Venezuela of its access to world oil markets through sanctions and so diminished operating revenues. President Maduro's suppression of anti-government protests was the pretext but the US has wanted regime change for years.

In fact, the imposition of sanctions on Venezuela had nothing do do with human rights any more than the prospect of lifting the embargo on Cuba is about improving them in Cuba. Little fuss was made by the US over the assassination of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya in July 22, 2012 .

One reason was although Paya was a critic of Castro's totalitarian police state, he refused to accept U.S. aid as NGOs and oppositionists had in Venezuela, many funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. Opposed to both neoliberal shock therapy and dictatorship, Paya was considered of no use to Washington.

Wikileaks cables from 2009 revealed clearly that Washington was not interested in old style dissidents because their fuss over arbitrary imprisonment and jailings for political opposition was less important to younger Cubans "more concerned about having greater opportunities to travel freely and live comfortably."

By engaging with Cuba in 2015, as Venezuela's economy endured rapid inflation worsened by sanctions, Washington has been able to sink an economy heavily invested in by China as well as opening up the possibility for the disputes over oil in the Gulf of Mexico between Mexico and Cuba to be resolved by US intercession.

As U.S. oil companies are set  to spend billions of dollars drilling in the southern Gulf of Mexico, drawing in Cuba would be one way to lift sanctions, improve trade and investments develop Raul Castro's Mariel Economic Development Zone. In turn, this would raise living standards and win Cuban's over to the US.

Drawing Cuba back into the US sphere of influence is regarded as vital to guard against renewed Russian interest in developing Cuba's oil. The US is said to have neglected the interest it had in crushing left leaning governments during the Cold War with the result that they turned to China, Russia and even Iran.

With Cuba brought from out of the cold, the US would be able to exert greater hemispheric influence in Latin America once more in 'it's own backyard' and to make states throughout Latin America once more more dependent upon US capital and weapons systems. The fate of dissidents such as Paya is not on the agenda.

When Paya's daughter attempted to attend the Summit of the Americas in Panama, where Cuban and American presidents meet for the first time in over fifty years,she was told by guards"You are going to be deported to Cuba if you cause any trouble or start raising banners. Go back to your own country to cause trouble."

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