Cuba must get out of Venezuela and reform before we reward it with our trade

Cuba must get out of Venezuela and reform before we reward it with our trade

by Brian Monteith
article from Tuesday 12, February, 2019

IF YOU ARE a Foreign Office Minster and are praised by a Corbynista group, then surely you must know you are doing something wrong? The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is now very supportive of British foreign policy towards Cuba, which appears to be to sidle up to the bankrupt dictatorship in the hope of some trade deals. The campaign is one of a little constellation of closely linked far-left groups whose task it is to support communist dictatorships and parrot their propaganda.

A decision has been taken to build British ties with Cuba rapidly. Following the first visit of a British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, to Havana in 2016, Cuban visits to the UK have been coming thick and fast. A high level Cuban parliamentary delegation was invited to the UK by Speaker John Bercow in 2017.  Although it had many meetings with important people like Alan Duncan, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, and Baroness Hooper, its members didn’t appear to have absorbed the point that parliamentary democracy involves having free elections in which parties other than the ruling communists can take part.

In November 2018 we were blessed with the first visit to Britain of a Cuban President, in the form of Miguel Díaz-Canel, accompanied by the Deputy President and the Foreign Minister. The President explained that originally the trip was supposed to be just a transit stopover, but the British government had made it possible to have high level meetings with the Chancellor Phillip Hammond, Trade Secretary Liam Fox and others. Amazingly, a Royal Visit to Cuba is now planned for later this spring. Who will be representing us and what will be said about Cuba’s human rights?

Of course, so long as the communist dictatorship pertains, increased trade with Cuba is of course a foolish pipedream. UK exports to Cuba in 2017 amounted to only $31.6m, a tiny and wholly insignificant amount. There is little prospect of that figure growing so long as the Cuban economy remains a centrally planned basket case. Currently the state controls 90 per cent of the economy and employs around 85 per cent of the total workforce. The private sector actually shrank last year due to tight new state regulations and the economy is going nowhere. Sugar prices are low, food production is stagnant and tourism revenue is falling. Yet still the British Government pursues its strategy, rather than joining the US in applying pressure on Cuba to dismantle its dictatorship and free the economy. 

That way, with the people freed of a multitude of onerous and often petty restrictions, the economy could open up, and trade would become an aid to liberation. Unfortunately the British government has got its strategy the wrong way round. When the Foreign Office Minister of State Sir Alan Duncan attacked US sanctions on Cuba last month, Cuba Solidarity Campaign Director Rob Miller actually praised him saying “This is a very important and welcome statement from Sir Alan Duncan MP”.  The Communist politburo in Havana would certainly have enjoyed reading that.

And no doubt Jeremy Corbyn too, and the Morning Star and all the other Communist leaning or sympathetic fellow travellers.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is of course campaigning alongside the other Corbynista Groups to preserve the Maduro regime. That also happens to be the line of the Cuban regime too, which depends heavily on Venezuelan subsidies and maintains some 15,000 ‘military advisers’ and intelligence operatives in Venezuela in order to prop up the regime. They are closely involved in supressing opposition to the regime and there are documented instances of them torturing political prisoners.

For the sake of basic human rights and the welfare of the people of Venezuela and Cuba we need an abrupt change in UK policy towards the communist regime of Cuba.  There should be no more rapprochements until all Cuban forces are withdrawn from Venezuela and there are genuine signs of liberalisation coming from Havana.  Instead, the royal visit should be put on hold and sanctions that target the regime should be applied to put real economic pressure on Cuba’s communist leaders. Only once there are genuine signs of liberalisation and reform should there be the reward of British investment and trade.

This approach will upset the Government’s friends in the Cuba Solidarity Campaign as well as Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Chris Williamson MP. That however is a price worth paying for the freedom of the Cuban people and liberation of Venezuela from Maduro.

An edited version of this article was first published on Photo: Cuban security personnel detain a member of the Ladies in White dissident group during a protest in Havana. 


ThinkScotland exists thanks to readers' support - please donate in any currency and often

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter & like and share this article
To comment on this article please go to our facebook page