In recent days, the situation in Cuba has once again attracted attention of the world community. On July 11, the Island of Freedom has witnessed the first mass protests over the years that took place in 10 municipalities, including the capital city of Havana. Among the protesters' demands are: a free election, solution to social problems and more decisive actions by the authorities to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cuban authorities believe that the one to orchestrate the protests is the United States. According to President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba has become the target of a hybrid war, which includes spreading fake news and inciting unrest aimed to defeat Cuba without fighting. The Cuban leader has also condemned attempts to spread fake news and intentions to deprive Cuba of opportunities to defend itself, by cyber attacks on the media, the country's official government channels and other departments, particularly the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
There is nothing new about it, he said, emphasizing Cuba's determination to protect sovereignty and independence. In this regard, he urged those supporting the government to voice their protest against any outside interference in their country's domestic affairs. And this appeal by President Díaz-Canel was heard: the very next day, on July 18, government sympathizers arranged marches attended by over a hundred thousand people.
In his turn, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez accused the US authorities of bluntly engaging in the arrangement of anti-government rallies of July 11. According to him, social media calls for a humanitarian intervention in Cuba may be regarded as an appeal for a military intervention. "I accuse the US government of being directly involved and largely responsible for the events that took place on July 11," Rodriguez said. He had good reasons for statements to this effect. Suffice it to say that July 13 saw US ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo call on Washington to support the Cuban protesters and put pressure on the local government, urging the American people to side with the rioters.
Moscow, be it noted, has voiced support for the Cuban authorities in their belief that the United States attempts to orchestrate a color revolution in Cuba. Thus, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called on Washington to stay out of Cuba's domestic affairs and to give the Cubans an opportunity to decide their own fate. "We are calling on Washington to take on an objective position finally, to get rid of the hypocrisy and hidden agendas in politics, and to let the Cubans, their government and people, deal with the situation themselves and determine their fate," Zakharova said in a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website. By the way, the Chinese authorities have also expressed support for official Havana. Beijing is sure the United States has to promptly lift the economic blockade on Cuba, as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a briefing on July 19.
Washington rejects all the accusations by the Cuban side, calling them a "major mistake". But how can one justify the fact that on July 14, Fox News featured Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez urging the United States to stage a strike on Cuba and overthrow the current government? He expressed a belief that Washington should study and discuss this option as a measure of pressure on Havana in addition to "many other options." Later, in an interview with the Miami Herald newspaper, the mayor said he expected a call from US President Joe Biden to discuss a probable military invasion of Cuba. Apparently, he has not received that call.
It is no secret that a direct armed invasion of Cuba by American troops might entail unpredictable consequences and another Caribbean crisis like that of October 1962, when the Third World War nearly set the world on fire. Soviet and US leaders Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy had enough political wisdom to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. And today, the American administration had the prudence not to unleash a military conflict, for once. And with appeals like those by the mayor of Miami, the point of no return is just around the corner.
However, Francis Suarez himself backed down and tried to explain his words about the bombing of Cuba in an interview with MSNBC. In particular, he said he did not call for airstrikes, that was a mere example. The mayor of Miami noted that such a reaction by the US authorities followed various incidents in all parts of the world. According to him, many American administrations have considered various options in different theaters of hostilities around the world. One of them, which he mentioned as an instance, is the Kosovo airstrikes under Bill Clinton. He provided several more examples of US global military activities, noting that Miami residents are extremely upset, willing to be sure that the Joe Biden administration is considering all the options against Cuba, which is only 90 miles (some 150 kilometers) away from Florida.
It should be noted here that a power shift in Cuba is exceedingly profitable for the United States, which has long regarded the republic as its "backyard". As such, Pentagon is getting increasingly worried by Russia's activity in the Caribbean Sea: present-day Cuba represents a potential springboard for the deployment of Russian strategic weapons. Recently, Russia and Cuba did really become closer, to Washington's great disgust.
For example, in 2018, Cuban Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Leopoldo Cintra Frias was awarded the Order of Friendship by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu; in July 2019, Russian frigate the Admiral Gorshkov armed with Kalibr cruise missiles made a business call to Cuba. Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov visited Cuba in February 2020, and in December 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry stressed that Moscow expected a further strengthening of military cooperation with its Cuban partners. And, most crucially, the issue of creating a closed nuclear submarine base of the Russian Navy in Cuba was considered in the meantime.
Summing up, note that since the Cold War, Russia has been closely monitoring the situation on the Island of Freedom. So, Washington should give thought to whether it's worth interfering in the domestic affairs of Cuba provided that Moscow is invisibly standing behind Havana.