Foreign relations of Cuba

Foreign relations of Cuba

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view · Cuba's once-ambitious foreign policy has been down sized as a result of economic hardship after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Without massive Soviet subsidies and its primary trading partner Cuba was comparatively isolated in the 1990s, but has since entered bilateral co-operation with several South American countries, most notably Venezuela and Bolivia. The United States continues an embargo "so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights",[1] while the European Union accuses Cuba of "continuing flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms".[2] Cuba has developed a growing relationship with the People's Republic of China and Russia. In all, Cuba continues to have formal relations with 160 nations, and provided civilian assistance workers - principally medical - in more than 20 nations.[3] More than two million exiles have escaped to foreign countries. Cuba's present foreign minister is Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.

Cuba is currently a lead country on the United Nations Human Rights Council, and is a founding member of the organization known as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a member of the Latin American Integration Association and the United Nations. Cuba is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and hosted its September 2006 summit. In addition as a member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), Cuba was re-appointed as the chair- of the special committee on transportation issues for the Caribbean region.[4] Following a meeting in November 2004, several leaders of South America have attempted to make Cuba either a full or associate member of the South American trade-bloc known as Mercosur.[5][6]



Spanish colonial period

Prior to achieving its independence, Cuba was a colony of Spain.


Prior to the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba maintained strong economic and political ties to the United States. From 1902 until its abrogation in 1934, the Platt Amendment authorized the US to use military force to preserve Cuba's independence.

In 1917, Cuba entered World War I on the side of the allies.[7]

Cuba joined the League of Nations in 1920.

In 1941, Cuba declared war on Italy, Germany, and Japan.

Cuba joined the United Nations in 1945.

Cuba joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1948.

During the Presidency of Fulgencio Batista, Cuba did not initially face trade restrictions. In mid-1958, the United States imposed an arms embargo on the Batista administration.

The Cold War

As early as September 1959, Valdim Kotchergin (or Kochergin), a KGB agent[citation needed], was seen in Cuba.[8][9]

Following the establishment of diplomatic ties to the Soviet Union, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuba became increasingly dependent on Soviet markets and military and economic aid. Castro was able to build a formidable military force with the help of Soviet equipment and military advisors. The KGB kept in close touch with Havana, and Castro tightened Communist Party control over all levels of government, the media, and the educational system, while developing a Soviet-style internal police force.

Castro's alliance with the Soviet Union caused something of a split between him and Guevara. In 1966, Guevara left for Bolivia in an ill-fated attempt to stir up revolution against the country's government.

On August 23, 1968, Castro made a public gesture to the USSR that caused the Soviet leadership to reaffirm their support for him. Two days after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia to repress the Prague Spring, Castro took to the airwaves and publicly denounced the Czech rebellion. Castro warned the Cuban people about the Czechoslovakian 'counterrevolutionaries', who "were moving Czechoslovakia towards capitalism and into the arms of imperialists". He called the leaders of the rebellion "the agents of West Germany and fascist reactionary rabble."[10] In return for his public backing of the invasion, at a time when some Soviet allies were deeming the invasion an infringement of Czechoslovakia's sovereignty, the Soviets bailed out the Cuban economy with extra loans and an immediate increase in oil exports.

The relationship between the Soviet Union's KGB and the Cuban Intelligence Directorate was complex and marked by times of extremely close cooperation and times of extreme competition. The Soviet Union saw the new revolutionary government in Cuba as an excellent proxy agent in areas of the world where Soviet involvement was not popular on a local level. Nikolai Leninov, the KGB Chief in Mexico City, was one of the first Soviet officials to recognize Fidel Castro's potential as a revolutionary and urged the Soviet Union to strengthen ties with the new Cuban leader. Moscow saw Cuba as having far more appeal with new revolutionary movements, western intellectuals, and members of the New Left with Cuba's perceived David and Goliath struggle against US imperialism. Shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963, Moscow invited 1,500 DI agents, including Che Guevara, to the KGB's Moscow Center for intensive training in intelligence operations.

After the revolution of 1959, Cuba soon took actions inimical to American trade interests on the island. In response, the U.S. stopped buying Cuban sugar and refused to supply its former trading partner with much needed oil. Relations between the countries deteriorated rapidly. In April 1961, following air attacks preparing for the Bay of Pigs invasion by CIA-trained Cuban exiles, prime minister Fidel Castro declared Cuba to be a socialist republic, and moved quickly to develop the growing relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union.

In 1962, Cuba was expelled from the Organization of American States - Thereafter, many nations throughout Latin America broke ties with Cuba.

Following the establishment of diplomatic ties, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Cuba became increasingly dependent on Soviet markets and military and economic aid. Cuba was able to build a large military force with the help of Soviet equipment and military advisors. The Soviets also kept in close touch with Havana, sharing varying close relations until the collapse of the bloc in 1990.


See Cuba–Russia relations

Relations between the two countries suffered somewhat during the Boris Yeltsin administration, as Cuba was forced to look for new major allies, such as China, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Relations improved when Vladimir Putin was elected as the new Russian President. Putin, and later Dmitry Medvedev, emphasized re-establishing strong relations with old Soviet allies. In 2008, Medvedev visited Havana and Raúl Castro made a week long trip to Moscow. In that same year the two governments signed multiple economic agreements and Russia sent tons of humanitarian aid to Cuba. Cuba, meanwhile, gave staunch political support for Russia during the 2008 South Ossetia war. Relations between the two nations are currently at a post-Soviet high, and talks about potentially re-establishing a Russian military presence in Cuba are even beginning to surface.

Relations in Latin America and Africa during the Cold War

"Cuba has a unique symbolic allure. It is the small country that confronted the U.S. empire and has survived despite the attempts by all U.S. presidents since to subdue its communist government. It is the island with iconic leaders like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and the Latin American country that in the language of revolutionaries everywhere embodies the struggle of socialist humanism against the materialism of capitalist societies. Cuba is also the small nation that in the past sent its troops to die in faraway lands in Latin America and even Africa fighting for the poor."

During the cold war, Cuba's influence in the Americas was inhibited by the Monroe Doctrine and the dominance of the United States.[12] Despite this Fidel Castro became an influential figurehead for leftist groups in the region, extending support to Marxist Revolutionary movements throughout Latin America, most notably aiding the Sandinistas in overthrowing Somoza in Nicaragua in 1979. In 1971, Fidel Castro took a month-long visit to Chile. The visit, in which Castro participated actively in the internal politics of the country, holding massive rallies and giving public advice to Salvador Allende, was seen by those on the political right as proof to support their view that "The Chilean Way to Socialism" was an effort to put Chile on the same path as Cuba.[13]

Cuba's intervention in Africa, which began in the mid-1970s, was more substantial leading to involvement in 17 African nations and three African insurgencies soon leading Cuban soldiers engaging in frontline military combat.[12] In doing so Castro aligned Cuba with African insurgencies against colonial vestiges and specifically against South Africa.[12] By providing military aid Cuba won trading partners for the Soviet bloc and potential converts to Marxism.[12]

On November 4, 1975, Castro ordered the deployment of Cuban troops to Angola to aid the Marxist MPLA government against UNITA forces, which were being supported by the People's Republic of China, and later the United States, Israel, and South Africa (see: Cuba in Angola). After two months on their own, Moscow aided the Cuban mission with the USSR engaging in a massive airlift of Cuban forces into Angola. On this, Nelson Mandela is said to have remarked "Cuban internationalists have done so much for African independence, freedom, and justice."[14] Cuban troops were also sent to Marxist Ethiopia to assist Ethiopian forces in the Ogaden War with Somalia in 1977. Cuba sent troops along with the Soviet Union to aid the FRELIMO and MPLA governments in Mozambique and Angola, respectively, while they were fighting U.S. and South African-backed insurgent groups RENAMO (supported by Rhodesia as well) and UNITA. He also aided the government of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia during its conflict with Somalia. Overall, an estimated 14,000 Cubans were killed in Cuban military actions abroad.[15] Castro never disclosed the amount of casualties in Soviet African wars, but one estimate is 14,000, a high number for the small country.[16]

Cuban troops were also sent to Marxist Ethiopia to assist Ethiopian forces in the Ogaden War with Somalia in 1977. In addition, Castro extended support to Marxist Revolutionary movements throughout Latin America, such as aiding the Sandinistas in overthrowing the Somoza government in Nicaragua in 1979. It has been claimed by the Carthage Foundation-funded Center for a Free Cuba[17] that an estimated 14,000 Cubans were killed in Cuban military actions abroad.[15]

Post–Cold War relations

Fidel Castro with Russian President Vladimir Putin, December 2000

In the post–Cold War environment Cuban support for guerrilla warfare in Latin America has largely subsided, though the Cuban government continued to provide political assistance and support for left leaning groups and parties in the developing Western Hemisphere.

When Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited Cuba in 1989, the comradely relationship between Havana and Moscow was strained by Gorbachev's implementation of economic and political reforms in the USSR. "We are witnessing sad things in other socialist countries, very sad things", lamented Castro in November 1989, in reference to the changes that were sweeping such communist allies as the Soviet Union, East Germany, Hungary, and Poland.[18] The subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 had an immediate and devastating effect on Cuba.

Cuba today works with a growing bloc of Latin American politicians opposed to the "Washington consensus", the American-led doctrine that free trade, open markets, and privatization will lift poor third world countries out of economic stagnation. The Cuban government have condemned neoliberalism as a destructive force in the developing world, creating an alliance with Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia in opposing such policies.[19][20][21][22]

Currently, Cuba has diplomatically friendly relationships with Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Cristina Fernández of Argentina, with Chávez as perhaps his staunchest ally in the post-Soviet era. Cuba has sent thousands of teachers and medical personnel to Venezuela to assist Chávez's socialist oriented economic programs. Chávez, in turn provides Cuba with lower priced petroleum. Cuba's debt for oil to Venezuela is believed to be on the order of one billion US dollars.[23]

Relations with Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

Ties between the nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba have remained cordial over the course of the later half of the 20th century.[24] Formal diplomatic relations between the CARICOM economic giants: Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have existed since 1972,[25][26] and have over time led to an increase in cooperation between the CARICOM Heads of Government and Cuba. At a summit meeting of sixteen Caribbean countries in 1998, Fidel Castro called for regional unity, saying that only strengthened cooperation between Caribbean countries would prevent their domination by rich nations in a global economy.[27] Cuba, for many years regionally isolated, increased grants and scholarships to the Caribbean countries.

To celebrate ties between the Caribbean Community and Cuba in 2002 the Heads of Government of Cuba and CARICOM have designated the day of December 8 to be called 'CARICOM-Cuba Day'.[28] The day is the exact date of the formal opening of diplomatic relations between the first CARICOM-four and Cuba.

In December 2005, during the second CARICOM/CUBA summit held in Barbados, heads of CARICOM and Cuba agreed to deepen their ties in the areas of socio-economic and political cooperation in addition to medical care assistance. Since the meeting, Cuba has opened four additional embassies in the Caribbean Community including: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Suriname, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This development makes Cuba the only nation to have embassies in all independent countries of the Caribbean Community.[29] CARICOM and Canadian politicians[30] have jointly maintained that through the International inclusion of Cuba, a more positive change might indeed be brought about there (politically) as has been witnessed in the People's Republic of China.

Cuban cooperation with the Caribbean was extended by a joint health programme between Cuba and Venezuela named Operación Milagro, set up in 2005. The initiative is part of the Sandino commitment, which sees both countries coming together with the aim of offering free ophthalmology operations to an estimated 4.5 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean over a ten-year period.[31] According to Denzil Douglas, the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and the current Caricom chairman, more than 1,300 students from member nations are studying in Cuba while more than 1,000 Cuban doctors, nurses and other technicians are working throughout the region. In 1998 Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning had a heart valve replacement surgery in Cuba and returned in 2004 to have a pacemaker implanted.[32]

Following Fidel Castro's illness and temporary transfer of power Caribbean leaders sent get-well-soon messages to Castro. Leaders included Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia who announced: "We pray for President Castro and we wish him God's blessings".[32] Grenadan Prime Minister Keith Mitchell stated "Cuba has been a long-standing friend to the entire Caribbean", and Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning issued a statement extending Castro his "best wishes for a prompt recovery."[32] Additionally the Cuban-Barbadian Friendship Association (CBFA) and the social movement known as the Clement Payne Movement also extended a press release stating "We will lead the process for all progressive organisations in Barbados to hold a solidarity meeting with the government and people of the Republic of Cuba on August 13 at the Clement Payne Cultural Centre". Both organizations stated they would be planning to send a delegation to Cuba to celebrate with Fidel Castro his 80th birthday, in addition to the annual observance on October 6 of Cubana Flight 455 which was bombed off the coast of Barbados in 1976 via a CIA-linked plot.[33]

In December 2008 the CARICOM Heads of Government opened the third Cuba-CARICOM Summit in Cuba. The summit is to look at closer integration of the Caribbean Community and Cuba.[34] During the summit the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) bestowed Fidel Castro with the highest honour of CARICOM, The Honorary Order of the Caribbean Community which is presented in exceptional circumstances to those who have offered their services in an outstanding way and have made significant contributions to the region.[35][36]

At a summit meeting of sixteen Caribbean countries in 1998, Castro called for regional unity, saying that only strengthened cooperation between Caribbean countries would prevent their domination by rich nations in a global economy.[37] Caribbean nations have embraced Cuba's Fidel Castro while accusing the US of breaking trade promises. Castro, until recently a regional outcast, has been increasing grants and scholarships to the Caribbean countries, while US aid has dropped 25% over the past five years.[38] Cuba has opened four additional embassies in the Caribbean Community including: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This development makes Cuba the only country to have embassies in all independent countries of the Caribbean Community.[39]


Cuba has supported a number of leftist groups and parties in Latin America and the Caribbean since the 1959 revolution. In the 1960s Cuba established close ties with the emerging Guatemalan social movement led by Luis Augusto Turcios Lima, and supported the establishment of the URNG, a militant organization that has evolved into one of Guatemala's current political parties. In the 1980s Cuba backed the FMLN in El Salvador, providing military and intelligence training, weapons, guidance, and organizational support.


With the electoral win of the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2002 ties between Cuba and Brazil have steadily warmed. Brazil continues to play its part in trying to revive and upgrade the offshore oil and gas infrastructure of Cuba.[40] In addition, talks led by Brazil are underway seeking to develop a framework for Cuba to become a normalised affiliate member of the Mercosur bloc of countries.


Canada has maintained consistently cordial relations with Cuba, in spite of considerable pressure from the United States, and the island is also one of the most popular travel destinations for Canadian citizens. Canada-Cuba relations can be traced back to the 18th century, when vessels from the Atlantic provinces of Canada traded codfish and beer for rum and sugar. Cuba was the first country in the Caribbean selected by Canada for a diplomatic mission. Official diplomatic relations were established in 1945, when Emile Vaillancourt, a noted writer and historian, was designated Canada's representative in Cuba. Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the hemisphere to maintain uninterrupted diplomatic relations with Cuba following the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

In 1994, a joint venture was formed between the Cuban Nickel Union and the Canadian firm Sherritt International, which operates a mining and processing plant on the island in Moa. A second enterprise, Cobalt Refinery Co. Inc., was created in Alberta for nickel refining. Canada has been critical of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, and strongly objected to the Helms-Burton Act. In 1996 Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy stated: "Canada shares the U.S. objectives of improving human rights standards and moving to more representative government in Cuba. But we are concerned that the Helms-Burton Act takes the wrong approach. That is why we have been working with other countries to uphold the principles of international law". In 1996 a Private Member's Bill was introduced, but not made law, in the Canadian parliament; this law called the Godfrey-Milliken Bill was in response to the extraterritoriality of the aforementioned Act.

Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Fidel Castro were personal friends. Castro was among Pierre Trudeau's pallbearers at his funeral in 2000. Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Fidel Castro also maintained a close relationship.


Cuba has been since the 1960s a reference point to left wing politicians in Chile. Recently relations to Cuba has been hot subject in Concertación politics since the Christian Democrat Party of Chile, member of the Concertación, has supported a harder line in the diplomatic relations with Cuba while the Socialist Party of Chile has opposed this.[citation needed]

In 1971, despite an Organization of American States convention that no nation in the Western Hemisphere would have a relationship with Cuba (the only exception being Mexico, which had refused to adopt that convention), Castro took a month-long visit to Chile, following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. The visit, in which Castro participated actively in the internal politics of the country, holding massive rallies and giving public advice to Salvador Allende, was seen by those on the political right as proof to support their view that "The Chilean Way to Socialism" was an effort to put Chile on the same path as Cuba.[41]


During the Cold War, Cuba gave training, money, medicines, weapons and safe haven to members of Colombian guerrilla movements, especially to the ELN and also to members of the FARC, both of which were founded in the early 1960s. In recent years, Fidel Castro has made gestures of reconciliation with different Colombian government administrations, and has been considered responsible for facilitating talks between them and the opposing guerrilla groups.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica broke relations with Cuba in 1961 to protest Cuban support of the left in Central America and renewed formal diplomatic ties with Fidel Castro's government in March, 2009. In 1995, Costa Rica established a consular office in Havana. Cuba opened a consular office in Costa Rica in 2001, but relations continued to be difficult. In 2006, shortly after the death of Augusto Pinochet, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias compared Fidel Castro's human rights record to that of the former Chilean president. In response, Cuban officials released a statement describing the Washington aligned Arias as a "vulgar mercenary" of U.S. officials, and asserting that Washington "always had on hand another opportunistic clown ready to follow its aggressive plans against Cuba."[42][43]

El Salvador

Cuba and El Salvador resumed diplomatic relations on June 1, 2009. El Salvador previously suspended diplomatic relations with Cuba 50 years ago due to the Cuban Revolution.[44] Diplomatic ties were resumed after El Salvador's new president Mauricio Funes, who had pledged to reestablish them, was sworn into office. El Salvador is also the very last Latin American nation to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba.


Cuba had held good relations with Mexico since the Revolution. Also, when Cuba was expelled from the Organization of American States, Mexico did not support this resolution and abstained. Relations were stable from 1934 to 1998.

Although the relationship between Cuba and Mexico remains strained, each side appears to make attempts to improve it. In 1998, Fidel Castro apologized for remarks he made about Mickey Mouse which led Mexico to recall its ambassador from Havana. He said he intended no offense when he said earlier that Mexican children would find it easier to name Disney characters than to recount key figures in Mexican history. Rather, he said, his words were meant to underscore the cultural dominance of the US.[45] Mexican president Vicente Fox apologized to Fidel Castro in 2002 over statements by Castro, who had taped their telephone conversation, to the effect that Fox forced him to leave a United Nations summit in Mexico so that he would not be in the presence of President Bush, who also attended.[46]


Cuba developed close relations with the 1979 Sandinista government in Nicaragua (having supported the Sandinista insurgency against Anastasio Somoza's rule). Cuba proved to be the organization's chief international ally in the civil war against the U.S.-backed Contras. Cuba transported weapons to Panama. From Panama, the Cuban weapons would be taken through Costa Rica to Nicaragua[citation needed]. Cuba continues to have close relations with the Sandinista National Liberation Front, since being re-elected in 2006 for the first time since 1984, they are again the governing party of Nicaragua.


Cuba and Panama have restored diplomatic ties after breaking them off in 2004 when Panama's former president pardoned four Cuban exiles accused of attempting to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. The foreign minister of each country re-established official diplomatic relations in Havana by signing a document describing a spirit of fraternity that has long linked both nations.[47] Cuba, once shunned by many of its Latin American neighbours, now has full diplomatic relations with all but Costa Rica and El Salvador.[47] However, in March 2009, both governments of Costa Rica and El Salvador announced that they plan on re-establishing full diplomatic relations with Cuba.[48]


Relations between Cuba and Venezuela have significantly improved during the Presidency of Hugo Chávez. Chávez has formed a major alliance with Cuban president Fidel Castro and significant trade relationship with Cuba since his election in 1999.The warm relationship between the two countries continued to intensify.[49] Hugo Chávez has described Castro as his mentor[50] and has called Cuba "a revolutionary democracy".[51]

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is a close ally of Fidel Castro, and has described the Fidel Castro–Hugo Chávez–Evo Morales relationship as an "Axis of good". Chávez's formulation is a play on the "axis of evil" phrase used by President Bush when describing governments such as those of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea in his 2002 State of the Union Address. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has agreed to barter Venezuelan oil, in exchange for Cuban medical assistance.

On December 15, 2004, an agreement called the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) was signed to eliminate tariffs and import duties and promote investment as well as technical and educational cooperation between the two countries. Venezuela and Cuba have been close trading partners since a cooperative agreement was signed between them on October 30, 2000. The new agreement meant that Cuban goods and services were to be paid for with Venezuela products and currency. Venezuela will transfer technology, finance development projects in the agriculture, service, energy and infrastructures sectors. Cuba, in addition to providing over 15,000 medical professionals who participate in Barrio Adentro, a social program which provides Cuban healthcare treatment to Venezuelans and trains doctors and specialists, will grant 2,000 annual scholarships to Venezuelan students. Also, the agreement commits the two countries to work together with other Latin American countries to fight illiteracy.[52]

In 2005 the two countries also signed cooperation agreements in the area of energy and electricity, an accord between Venezuela's oil company PDVSA and its Cuban counterpart Cupet to buy and sell crude oil and a crude oil storage agreement between the two companies.[53]

Hugo Chávez, who says he is one of the few people in the world who knows Castro's illness from July 31, 2006, has helped Cuba undermine a strict U.S. embargo by sending cheap oil and boosting commercial relations. Agreements between Cuba and Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, have brought more than 20,000 Cuban doctors to Venezuela to provide medical services for the poor. The program, one of numerous oil-funded social projects, has helped Chávez build a strong political support base and he was widely expected to win a reelection bid in December 2006.[54] Chávez was able to win that election.

A White House point man on plans for a post-Castro transition, Caleb McCarry, recently told The Miami Herald that U.S. estimates of total Venezuelan subsidies to Cuba per year "are up to the $2 billion figure." This is comparable to the $4 billion to $6 billion that the Soviet Union once pumped into Cuba per year.[55]

United States

Since the Cuban revolution of 1959 relations deteriorated substantially and have subsequently been marked by tension and confrontations. The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Cuba and has maintained an embargo which makes it illegal for U.S. corporations to do business with Cuba. This includes travel restrictions. These measures were further strengthened by the implementation by the U.S. of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 which attempted to punish any foreign companies operating in Cuba, especially those using expropriated US assets. US diplomatic representation in Cuba is handled by the United States Interests Section in Havana, and a similar "Cuban Interests Section" remains in Washington. Both are officially part of the respective embassies of Switzerland.


Fidel Castro with South African president Thabo Mbeki (to Castro's left)

On a visit to South Africa, Fidel Castro was warmly received by President Nelson Mandela.[56] President Mandela gave Castro South Africa's highest civilian award for foreigners, the Order of Good Hope.[57] In 2005 Castro fulfilled his promise of sending 100 medical aid workers to Botswana, according to the Botswana presidency. According to Anna Vallejera, Cuba's first-ever Ambassador to Botswana, the health workers are part of her country's ongoing commitment to proactively assist in the global war against HIV/AIDS.[58] Cuba also has historically good ties with a number of other African countries, including Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia and Algeria.


Angola-Cuba diplomatic relations are, for Angola, second only to relations with the United States. During Angola's civil war, Cuban forces fought to install a Marxist-Leninist MPLA-PT government; against Western-backed UNITA and FLNA guerrillas and an invading army of the South African apartheid state. For the time being South African forces were repelled though the UNITA insurgency continued; eventually Cuban forces withdrew from the country, especially as Cuba faced tremendous economic difficulties as a result of the Soviet Union's collapse. The outcome of Cuban withdrawal and the peace accords resulted in the MPLA changing from a Marxist-Leninist party to a Multi-Party Democratic system based on free market principles (the MPLA also dropped the "PT" extension to their name as a clear sign of dropping their Communist aspirations). From an economic stand point, Cuba has lost its preferred status among Angolans and South Africa has become the biggest single investor and trading partner with Angola (outside of oil sales).


Cuban-Namibian relations began during the Namibian War of Independence when Cuba politically, militarily and diplomatically supported the Namibian rebel organization and future ruling party, South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) against the military of Apartheid South Africa.[59] Since independence, Namibia and Cuba have held joint meetings every two years for Economic, Scientific-Technical and Commercial Cooperation. In 2005, it was reported that 1,460 Cuban professionals had worked in Namibia, including 208 in 2005.[59]


European Union

European Union (EU) relations with Cuba are governed by the Common Position, as approved by the European Council of Ministers in 1996, which is updated every six months following regular evaluations. According to the Common Position "the objective of the European Union in its relations with Cuba is to encourage a process of transition to a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people". Cuba rejects the Common Position as interference in its internal affairs. There is an EU Delegation in Havana that works under the responsibility of the EC Delegation in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Cuba benefits from the GPS (Generalized Preference System) preferential treatment for its exports. Furthermore, Cuba does not benefit from the ACP-EU Sugar Protocol but from a sugar quota granted by the EU (some 59,000 tonnes per year; duty paid on this quota is EUR 98/t).[60]


Although Greece is a member of the European Union, it has better relations with Cuba than other member states.

  • Cuba has an embassy in Athens.
  • Greece has an embassy in Havana.


Cuba has two embassies in Oceania, located in Wellington (opened in November 2007[61])and also one in Canberra opened October 24 2008. It also has a Consulate General in Sydney.[62] However, Cuba has official diplomatic relations with Nauru since 2002[63] and the Solomon Islands since 2003,[64] and maintains relations with other Pacific countries by providing aid.

In 2008, Cuba will reportedly be sending doctors to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Nauru and Papua New Guinea,[65] while seventeen medical students from Vanuatu will study in Cuba.[66] It may also provide training for Fiji doctors. Indeed, Fiji's ambassador to the United Nations, Berenado Vunibobo, has stated that his country may seek closer relations with Cuba, and in particular medical assistance, following a decline in Fiji's relations with New Zealand.[67]


Australia and Cuba have a growing relationship on positive terms. Relations began in 1989. Relations were given a rebirth in 2009 when the foreign minister Stephen Smith visited Cuba. In 2010 the foreign minister of Cuba Bruno Rodriguez visited Australia. The ministers signed a memorandum of understanding in political cooperation between the foreign ministries and for closer bilateral relations. There is a Cuban embassy in Australia. It was opened on the 24th October 2008.


Relations are recent, having developed in the 2000s. Like other countries in Oceania, Kiribati is a beneficiary of Cuban medical aid; bilateral relations between Tarawa and Havana must be viewed within the scope of Cuba's regional policy in Oceania.

There are currently sixteen doctors providing specialised medical care in Kiribati, with sixteen more scheduled to join them.[68] Cubans have also offered training to I-Kiribati doctors.[69] Cuban doctors have reportedly provided a dramatic improvement to the field of medical care in Kiribati, reducing the child mortality rate in that country by 80%,[70] and winning the proverbial hearts and minds in the Pacific. In response, the Solomon Islands began recruiting Cuban doctors in July 2007, while Papua New Guinea and Fiji considered following suit.[70]


In June 2007, Nauru adopted the "Cuban literacy method", reportedly used also in several other countries.[71] In October 2007, Nauruan Foreign Minister and Trade Minister David Adeang travelled to Cuba to strengthen relations between the two island nations.[72] This led to the creation of a Cuba-Nauru Joint Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation.[73] An unspecified number of Cuban doctors are serving in Nauru.

New Zealand

Regarding relations with New Zealand, Cuban ambassador Jose Luis Robaina Garcia said his country had "admiration for New Zealand's independent foreign policy".[61]

Solomon Islands

Relations between the Solomon Islands and Cuba have only a short history. The two countries moved to establish relations from the 2000s, and particularly from 2007, within the context of Cuba's growing interest in the Pacific Islands region. Like other countries in Oceania, Solomon Islands is a beneficiary of Cuban medical aid; bilateral relations between Havana and Honiara must be viewed within the scope of Cuba's regional policy in Oceania.

In April 2007, the Solomon Star reported that the Solomon Islands' High Commissioner to the United Nations was soon to be sworn in as Ambassador to Cuba.[74] In September 2007, it was announced that 40 Cuban doctors would be sent to the Solomon Islands.[75] The Solomons' Minister of Foreign Affairs Patterson Oti said that Solomon Islander doctors would "learn from their Cuban colleagues in specialized areas".[76] In addition to providing doctors, Cuba provided scholarships for 50 Solomon Islanders to study medicine in Cuba for free.[64][77]


Relations between Tuvalu and Cuba are recent, having developed in the 2000s. Like other countries in Oceania, Tuvalu is a beneficiary of Cuban medical aid; bilateral relations between Funafuti and Havana must be viewed within the scope of Cuba's regional policy in Oceania.


Relations between the Republic of Vanuatu and Cuba began shortly after the former gained its independence from France and the United Kingdom in 1980, and began establishing its own foreign policy as a newly independent state. Vanuatu and Cuba established official diplomatic relations in 1983.[78]



Iran has a productive trade balance with Cuba. The two governments signed a document to bolster cooperation in Havana in January 2006.[79] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called relations "firm and progressive" over the past three decades.[80]


Cuba consistently supported Iraq at the UN against sanctions and threats made by the United States.[81] The thirteen year sanction against Iraq prevented much trade between Havana and Baghdad. Iraq has an embassy in Havana. Cuba has an embassy in Baghdad[82] Both countries are full members of the Group of 77.


  • Cuba has an embassy in Astana.
  • Kazakhstan has a consulate-general in Havana.
  • Cuba is the only country in the Caribbean that maintains an embassy in Kazakhstan.


The relations between the two countries strengthened after Cuba provided humanitarian assistance to the victims of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Both nations continue to strengthen the bilateral relations especially in the fields of higher education, agriculture, industry and science and technology and have also held talks for military cooperation.

In March 2008, ambassador Gustavo Machin Gomez met General Tariq Majid, the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) at Joint Staff Headquarters and discussed issues related to military cooperation. Both of them expressed positive views over the increasing relations between the two nations and were optimistic that the bilateral cooperation will expand in different fields. Majid stressed that Pakistan has formed strong defence infrastructure both in defence production and in shape of military academies to provide help and cooperation to the Military of Cuba. He also said that both countries should use their capacity for expanding military cooperation.

People's Republic of China

As the economy of the Soviet Union fell into a decline during the 1990s, the People's Republic of China has emerged as a new a key partner for Cuba's foreign relations and the guardian of socialist countries around the world. Relations between Cuba and China continue to grow including deals for China to set up a possible military base in Cuba, similar to the Bejucal Base and an agreement was signed between China and Cuba for China open more factories producing local goods such as televisions. Cuba has also purchased from China a wide range of items including bicycles, rice cookers, energy-saving lightbulbs and diesel-electric locomotives with the aim of providing a boost to Cuba's national infrastructure.[83]

South Korea

There is no official-level diplomatic relation between Cuba and South Korea. Despite this, there has been unofficial interactions in the economic level between the two countries. For instance, South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries sent PPS mobile generators to Cuba for the country's power grids. The picture of PPS were later incorporated into the 10 Cuban convertible peso banknote.[84]

International organizations and groups


Organization of American States

Cuba was formerly excluded from participation in the Organization of American States under a decision adopted by the Eighth Meeting of Consultation in Punta del Este, Uruguay, on 21 January 1962. The resolution stated that as Cuba had officially identified itself as a Marxist-Leninist government, is was incompatible with "the principles and objectives of the inter-American system."[85] This stance was frequently questioned by some member states. This situation came to an end on 3 June 2009, when foreign ministers assembled in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, for the OAS's 39th General Assembly, passed a vote to lift Cuba's suspension from the OAS. In its resolution (AG/RES 2438), the General Assembly decided that:

  1. Resolution VI, [...] which excluded the Government of Cuba from its participation in the Inter-American system, hereby ceases to have effect
  2. The participation of the Republic of Cuba in the OAS will be the result of a process of dialogue initiated at the request of the Government of Cuba, and in accordance with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS.

The reincorporation of Cuba as an active member had arisen regularly as a topic within the inter-American system (e.g., it was intimated by the outgoing ambassador of Mexico in 1998)[86] but most observers did not see it as a serious possibility while the Socialist government remained in power. On 6 May 2005, President Fidel Castro reiterated that the island nation would not "be part of a disgraceful institution that has only humiliated the honor of Latin American nations".[87]

In an editorial published by Granma, Fidel Castro applauded the Assembly's "rebellious" move and said that the date would "be recalled by future generations."[88] However, a Declaration of the Revolutionary Government dated 8 June 2009 stated that while Cuba welcomed the Assembly's gesture, in light of the Organization's historical record "Cuba will not return to the OAS".[89]

Cuba joined the Latin American Integration Association becoming the tenth member (out of 12) on 26 August 1999. The organization was set up in 1980 to encourage trade integration association. Its main objective is the establishment of a common market, in pursuit of the economic and social development of the region.

On September 15, 2006, Cuba officially took over leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement during the 14th summit of the organization in Havana.[90]

Cuban intervention abroad: 1959 - Early 1990s

Aided by a massive buildup of Soviet advisors, military personnel, and advanced weaponry during the Cold War, Cuba became a staunch ally of the USSR during Castro's rule, modeling its political structure after that of the CPSU. Due to this huge amount of support, Cuba became a major sponsor of Marxist "wars of national liberation" not only in Latin America, but worldwide.

Black Panthers

In the '60s and '70s, Cuba openly supported the black nationalist and Marxist-oriented Black Panther Party of the U.S. Many members found their way into Cuba for political asylum, where Cuba welcomed them after they had been convicted of crimes in the U.S.


Cuba has also lent support to Palestinian nationalist groups against Israel. Fidel Castro claims Israel practices "Zionist Fascism." Cuba has also lent support to the prominent Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the lesser-known Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) both received training from Cuba's General Intelligence Directorate, as well as financial and diplomatic support from the Cuban government.

In 2010, Castro indicated that he strongly supported Israel's right to exist. [3]

Irish Republicans

The Irish Republican political party, Sinn Féin is also known to have close political links to the Cuban government. In the past Fidel Castro has expressed support for the Irish Republican cause of a United Ireland. The Cuban government supported and still supports the Republican cause, but opposed the attacks which took place on civilian targets by Sinn Féin's military ally, the Provisional Irish Republican Army and of course attacks on civilians by their loyalist enemies such as the Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Defence Association.

Humanitarian aid

Since the establishment of the Revolutionary Government of Cuba in 1959, the country has sent more than 52,000 medical workers abroad to work in needy countries, including countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.[91] There are currently about 20,000 Cuban doctors working in 68 countries across three continents, including a 135-strong medical team in Java, Indonesia.[92]

Read more about Cuba's medical collaboration in Africa at:

Cuba provides Medical Aid to Children Affected by Chernobyl Nuclear Accident:

US Accusations of supporting terrorism

The U.S. list of state sponsors of international terrorism includes Cuba. According to the US, the Cuban Government has taken no action against al-Qaida or other terrorist groups. The Government of Cuba maintains close relationships with Iran and North Korea, and has provided safe haven to members of ETA after an agreement with the Spanish government (under Felipe González),[93] FARC, and the ELN. U.S. fugitives from justice and ETA members are living legally in Cuba. The United States Department of State has no information on their activities on Cuban territory.[94] Cuba refuses to extradite U.S. fugitives by stating that approval would be contingent upon the U.S. returning wanted Cuban criminals and that it will no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives who may enter Cuba.[94]

List of Foreign Ministers of Cuba

See also

External links

Representations of other countries in Cuba

Cuban represntations to other countries

Aspects of Cuba's foreign policy


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