Summary of Cuba: 60 años de política exterior

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The YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior" delves into Cuba's intricate political landscape over the past six decades. It highlights the country's tumultuous history, from Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1959 to the enduring dictatorship and the strained relationship with the United States. The speaker emphasizes the significant events that have shaped Cuba's foreign policy, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the country's involvement in African conflicts. The video also touches on Cuba's economic struggles and its reliance on external aid for survival. Overall, the video provides a comprehensive overview of Cuba's political journey, showcasing the lasting impact of its policies on the international stage.

  • 00:00:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses the ongoing significance of Cuba as a political topic, particularly in light of its 60-year history of dictatorship. The speaker mentions a recent encounter with a Cuban association in Bilbao, Spain, and their plans to speak about Cuba in October, noting the recent anniversary of the Revolution and the ongoing crisis with the United States over missiles. Cuba, the speaker notes, is a wound that refuses to heal in the Hispanic and Western worlds due to its long-standing dictatorship, which began with Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1959. The speaker reflects on how difficult it is to find people who remember the events of the revolution clearly, as the majority of Cubans have known no other political regime than that of the Castro brothers. The speaker emphasizes that the regime's survival is not due to the desire of the Cuban people and that, if given the choice, they would likely not choose the Communist Party as their governing body. The speaker also emphasizes the importance of understanding the historical facts of the Cuban Revolution, which began with Fulgencio Batista's departure from the country in 1959 and Fidel Castro's entry into the Moncada barracks with a small group of rebels. The speaker notes that many possibilities were open for the new government in the first months of its existence, but Fidel Castro's announcement of reforms and his failure to restore democracy marked the beginning of the long-lasting dictatorship.
  • 00:05:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses how Fidel Castro and the Revolutionary government were viewed by Cubans in the early years following the 1959 revolution. Initially, there was optimism and support for the young revolutionaries, who were seen as capable of improving the country. However, this quickly changed as the government began eliminating opposition and consolidating power. By 1961, just over a year after taking power, the Revolutionary government had effectively eliminated all opposition political parties and media outlets, and the Communist Party of Cuba had emerged as the only legal political organization in the country. This marked the transition from one dictatorship to another, with the Communist Party maintaining its grip on power for the next six decades. Despite the passage of time and some minor reforms, Cuba's institutional structure remained largely unchanged, and the country continued to be dominated by a single-party dictatorship. The speaker also touches on the question of how Cuba was able to make this transition with the United States, the world's hegemonic power at the time, looking on.
  • 00:10:00 In this section of the "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior" YouTube video, the speaker discusses the recognition of Fidel Castro's government by the United States in 1959. Initially, the US was hesitant to acknowledge Castro due to uncertainty about the revolution's success. However, after a week, President Eisenhower sent a new ambassador, Philip Phillips, who was expected to antagonize Castro. Eisenhower had no intention of supporting Castro or the revolutionaries, as the US had previously supplied arms to Batista. Castro, who remembered US interference in other Latin American countries, did not trust the Americans and saw their actions as a threat. The situation worsened in March 1959 when a ship called the Granma carrying arms from Czechoslovakia exploded in Havana's harbor. This event, which occurred just 90 kilometers from Florida, raised concerns and signaled Castro's intention to distance himself from the US.
  • 00:15:00 In this section of the "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior" YouTube video, the speaker discusses the deteriorating relationship between Cuba and the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The turning point came in 1960 when Fidel Castro demanded that Texaco refineries in Cuba process Soviet petroleum. When Texaco refused, Castro took control of the refineries and expropriated them, marking the beginning of the nationalization of American interests in Cuba. The United States responded by breaking diplomatic relations with Cuba in January 1961. At the time, the US was undergoing a change in government, with Kennedy set to take office, but Eisenhower failed to warn him about the situation in Cuba. In April 1961, the US attempted to invade Cuba with 1,500 exiled Cubans, but the operation failed, and the invasion only legitimized Castro's government and increased his support among the Cuban population.
  • 00:20:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which marked the peak of tensions between the United States and Cuba during the Cold War. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) planned an operation called "Mangosta," which involved training rebels, sabotaging infrastructure, and plotting to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The operation failed, and tensions between the two countries reached a critical point in October 1962, with the Soviet Union installing nuclear missiles in Cuba despite denials. The discovery of these missiles through U.S. spy planes led to an international crisis, with the potential for a nuclear war. Thankfully, the Soviet Union ultimately decided against confronting the United States, and the crisis was resolved through diplomatic means. The speaker reflects on the significance of this event, as it could have led to a devastating nuclear war and a very different world in 2022.
  • 00:25:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses the US embargo against Cuba, which was initially called a "quarantine" and was considered a declaration of war according to legal experts. The US imposed a naval blockade, preventing ships from reaching Cuba with weapons but allowing those carrying food to pass. The purpose was to prevent the Soviet Union from delivering more nuclear weapons to Cuba. The crisis lasted for a week, with the US not knowing if the Soviets would defy the blockade or attack. Eventually, an agreement was reached through back-channel negotiations. The speaker also mentions the film "13 Days" for further information. Despite the close relationship between Cuba and the Soviet Union, the US did not invade Cuba again and did not maintain the embargo as punishment for the expropriation of American businesses. Cuban exiles in the US, however, lobbied the US government to keep the issue of Cuban communism on the agenda. The Soviet Union provided military training and equipment to Cuba for decades, with a significant portion of the Cuban military being trained and led by Soviet officers. The Soviet Union invested an estimated $1 billion annually in maintaining the Cuban military.
  • 00:30:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses Cuba's strategic value during the Cold War, particularly its role as a provider of sugar to the Soviet Union and its integration into the Eastern Bloc. Cuba's military was among the best in the Western Hemisphere, and the Soviet Union saw value in Cuba beyond its economic worth. The country was a crucial supplier of sugar to the Eastern Bloc, and Cuba also served as a revolutionary example for other third-world countries. However, the revolution brought prosperity and then hardship, leading to mass emigration, particularly between 1959 and 1991. The first wave of emigrants consisted mostly of professionals who could leave with ease, and many of them settled in the United States and Spain. Today, there are significant Cuban communities in both countries, and associations of Cubans can be found throughout Spain.
  • 00:35:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses the ongoing exodus of Cubans from their country since the 1960s. The United States and Cuba reached an agreement in the 1960s that allowed Cubans to leave if they wished, resulting in the "flights of freedom." Hundreds of thousands of Cubans, many of whom had family in the United States, took advantage of this opportunity. In the late 1970s, another wave of Cubans, known as the Marielitos, left after occupying the Peruvian embassy's garden and were met with propaganda from the Cuban regime that portrayed them as undesirables and criminals. The reality was that most were ordinary people seeking a better life. This exodus continued throughout the years, with many Cubans risking their lives on rafts to reach the United States during the 1990s. Cuba remained focused on providing sugar to the Eastern Bloc and soldiers for wars of national liberation. The military was well-financed, making it an attractive option for Cubans, despite the hardships of military life. Cuba defined itself as internationalist, spreading its ideals and considering itself superior to others. This led to interference in other countries, including Nicaragua, and even irritated the Soviets. Despite avoiding sending soldiers to support guerrillas in other countries, Cuba provided training and support to local guerrillas, maintaining these relationships to the present day.
  • 00:40:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses Cuba's role in Africa during the 1970s when the continent was undergoing decolonization. Cuba sent military personnel to support liberation movements and left-leaning governments in various African countries, including Angola, Guinea-Ecuatorial, Guinea, Etiopia, and Mozambique. Fidel Castro even offered military support to Vietnam during its war. Cuba had around 40,000 military personnel stationed abroad, with most of them in subsaharan Africa. The speaker notes that this internationalist involvement, while it may be called imperialistic if any other country did it, helped Cuba gain favor with the Soviet Union. Thousands of Cubans lost their lives in these conflicts, and many are still found in African graves today. The speaker also mentions that the Soviet Union benefited from the Cuban soldiers, who were well-trained and disciplined, and often more effective than the Soviets themselves. The Cuban involvement in Africa was a costly endeavor, and when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba was forced to withdraw its troops from Africa. The speaker concludes by noting that this internationalist involvement was funded by Soviet subsidies and that the most significant conflict, the Angolan War, was a covert war between Cuba and South Africa over the newly independent Angola.
  • 00:45:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses Cuba's involvement in various conflicts in Africa during the 1960s and 1970s, specifically in Angola, Argelia, and the Congo. Cuban and Sudafrican factions supported opposing sides, but eventually, both sides reached a peace agreement in the United States in 1989. Cuba's involvement in these conflicts was significant, with Cuban soldiers managing advanced weaponry and planning operations. In Argelia, for instance, Cuban soldiers intervened in a war between Argelia and Marruecos but did not have to fire a shot as the two sides reached a quick agreement. In the Congo, Che Guevara led a mission that ended in a disastrous failure. Cuba also intervened in other African conflicts, some of which were more brutal than others. Fidel Castro, who was known for his support of leftist movements, ordered Cuban support for Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia against Somalia's dictator, Siad Barre. The end of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a crisis in Cuba, known as the "special period," during which Cuba had to adapt to the loss of Soviet subsidies and open itself up to tourism. The speaker recalls this period as particularly difficult for Cubans, who had already experienced hardships under Castro's regime. The United States hoped that the crisis would lead to the end of the Cuban government but was unsuccessful.
  • 00:50:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled "Cuba: 60 años de política exterior," the speaker discusses how Cuba's economy was divided into two separate economies - one for those with US dollars and another for those without. This division was created during the Cuban Revolution and was exacerbated when Venezuela, under President Hugo Chávez, began providing Cuba with petroleum in the late 1990s. With this newfound resource, Cuba became an oil exporter and its relationship with Venezuela reversed roles, with Cuba controlling the Venezuelan economy and Venezuela becoming the client. However, when Chávez died in 2013 and Venezuela entered a crisis, Cuba's economy was once again put at risk. The new Cuban government, led by Raúl Castro, was forced to make reforms and seek external financing to survive. The speaker concludes by noting that Cuba's economy can only exist with external aid and financing.

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