Putin and Cuba

July 31, 2014

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

For many years, I have advocated and worked to improve relations with Cuba. I’ve gone there supporting ag trade on two occasions. I’ve never said that Castro is a good friend. We all know that Cuba is a Communist dictatorship with the Castros in charge.

But, Cuba is only 90 miles from Florida. Also, Cuba could be a good market for our ag products as well as other products. All the while, all of our allies have established trading and business relations with Cuba. For 60 years, we have refused to develop any meaningful relationship.

This dispute goes back to the 1962 missile crisis. Castro, working with the Soviet Union, wanted the Soviets to bomb the U.S.

That’s ancient history now. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia was not willing to work with Cuba, and that Russian-Cuban relationship also collapsed. But now, we see Putin reaching out to rebuild that relationship. That’s his way of sticking his finger in our eye. Cuba has not been any threat to us, but Russia and Cuba could be.

Last year, Putin leased 8 Russian jets to Cuba and forgave 30 billion dollars of Cuban debt. Russia is currently in discussion to establish military bases in Cuba as well as Venezuela and Nicaragua. Russia is arranging to work with Castro in drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba. That’s right off of our coast.

For 50 or 60 years, Cuba has been no threat to the U.S. In that time, we have made little effort to build a relationship. In that time, we trade, have an ambassador, do business with Vietnam (another Communist country) that we fought a war with. President Nixon went to China – another Communist country that we recognize and do business with. But not Cuba. That neglect has made it possible for Putin to get his foot in the door. Now what do we do?

Of course, President Obama can deal with it. As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate already.

That’s it for this week. Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C