The Soviet Union has always been an Imperialist country, in it constant quest for supreme power. The Cold War period steadily increased this quest to find a balance of power technologically, economically, militarily and territorially. Cuba was once annexed by the United States, after the American-Spanish war of 1898 and American business flourished under the (1933) Batista government (Harris, 2002). After great tension, Batista claimed dictatorship which Fidel Castro challenged legally, leading a group of rebels led by Castro to overthrow the corrupt Batista government. Cuba was then open to become a super-client of the Soviet Union.
It can be assumed that through the aide of Soviet Imperialism, Cuba vastly improved its political might. Therefore without Soviet backing, Cuba would not have the material strength to pursue its own imperialistic tendencies. The reasons for this include the Soviet Union’s great programs of military and economic aide for Cuba, eventually leading to the political dependence of Castro to the Soviet Union. Cuba’s revolutionary spirit to liberate Latin America is also based on Soviet military supplies sent to Cuba. These assumptions will be discussed in detail further on.
The Soviet Union, like many powerful countries uses imperialism. Imperialism is a countries quest to spread its influence onto another country for the purpose of economics, religion or power. The Soviet Union, being a power bloc needed to acquire as much support as possible, to remain a superpower (Hoffman, 1986). Since the Cold War was taken very seriously by the Soviet Union, the location of the country it is to imperialist is also important. Location of an imperialised country can include building boarder security, and strategic defence as well as economic resources (Hoffman, 1986).
After the Cuban revolution of January 1st 1959 (Harris, 2002) a pro-socialist island in the Caribbean Basin which opposed American involvement was “sitting on [America’s] doorstep” (Hoffman, 1986). This island was the perfect strategic territory for the Soviet Union, because it was so close Latin America (Rubinstein, 1988). However, seeing that Cuba was pro-socialist was so close to the United States, Soviet military build up on the island was essential for its protection.
One of the many threats Cuba faced from the United States, started with Cuban destruction of US-owned land on Cuban soil. The United States responded to this action by banning Cuban trade, including the importing of sugar, and the exporting of medical aide (Hoffman, 1986; Harris, 2002; CNN; 1996). US threats continued through the build up of Cuban rebels, trained by the CIA in Florida.
Because the Cuban people desperately needed to export sugar, and import oil for production, Cuba developed a trading agreement with the Soviet Union (Hoffman, 1986). The beginning of this trading partnership, slowly laid down the foundation of Cuban dependency on the Soviet Union. This tie with the Soviet Union has continually scarred the Cuban foreign policy with non-socialist states, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union (Harris, 2002). The Soviet Union also saw the threat the United States placed on Cuba, and aided it with massive military supplies and military personnel (Rubinstein 1988).
The United States did not like the Soviet-Cuban relationship which was constantly growing; they especially did not like Fidel Castro, Cuba’s leader. In an attempt to overthrow the Castro government, the CIA trained many pro-Batista Cubans to try and inspire the Cuban people to revolt. They invaded in an area called “The Bay of Pigs.” Their attempt failed horribly, the United States miscalculated the mass support for Castro, and the Soviet Union by the Cuban people (Hoffman, 1986; Harris 2002). This failed attempt embarrassed the United States, and was the first of many plots against the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.
Tensions between Cuba, the Soviet Union and the United States were once again reflected within the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 (CNN, 1996). Soviet militarization of Cuba had been steadily increasing after the Bay of Pigs incident, so much so that the Soviet Union started to set up nuclear missile silos within Cuba (Hoffman, 1986). The United States, afraid of nuclear conflict demanded Khrushchev immediately remove the existing missiles, and turn back further Soviet supply ships, carrying missiles (Rubenstein, 1988). The conflict was resolved as stated by Harris, 2002 “the missiles are removed on condition that the US removes missiles stationed in Turkey and cease its attempts to overthrow Castro.” This resolution greatly made Cuba an “untouchable” state from US intervention, as it was completely under Soviet protection.
Within Latin America, the Cuban revolutionary spirit for social reform has remained unmatched, even by the Soviet Union which condemns Castro’s revolutionary procedure (Hoffman, 1986). The Soviet Union however has led many unsuccessful revolutionary attempts within Latin America; on the other hand CubaТs guerrilla fighters have aided revolutionaries in Guatemala, Guinea, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and the Republic of Congo (Harris, 2002). Much of the aide for these revolutionaries is in the form of Soviet weapons (Hoffman, 1986).
The growing strength of the Soviet Union and Cuba has led to an unmatched military force (Hoffman, 1986). The Soviet Union is greatly aided through the use of Cuban military advisors and personnel throughout the globe, in 1986 more than 70,000 troops and advisors were overseas in 23 different countries (Hoffman, 1986). The Soviet Union and Cuba quelled the opposition within Angola (an African country fighting for freedom against apartheid). The massive military build-up of Cuba from the period of 1959-1986 created Cuba to become the greatest military power within Latin America (Hoffman, 1986).
Because the Soviet Union has become Cuba’s main economic, political and military supplier, Cuba could not help but become completely dependant. Cuba’s dependence on the Soviet Union can be clearly seen through the militarization of Cuba’s society (Hoffman, 1986). Hoffman states that “innovative approach to development has waned” [Cuba] has become more and more dependant on Soviet economic assistance “over 3 billion dollars per year”. Cuba’s dependence is also reflected by Cuba’s response to the Soviet Union cutting back more than $10 million a-day subsidy (Manegold, 1989).
To conclude, the Soviet Union successfully imperialised the island of Cuba, creating it to become completely dependant in all factors. Through the use of military intervention, the Soviet Union has ensured that Fidel Castro would remain in power, preventing further US led attacks against the Cuban leader. Soviet aide to Cuba through the use of military armaments let Cuba revolutionise Latin America by supporting guerrilla fighters and allowing social reform. In other words, if it was not for the Soviet Union, Cuba as a revolutionist country would have been overthrown by US led attempts against the island, and leader Fidel Castro. In return, the Soviet Union had grown to an unmatched military superpower thanks to the support of Cuban advisors and troops.
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