Cuba has spurred a clandestine industry of weapons
For years, Havana traded arms in Africa and Latin America
FRANK LÓPEZ BALLESTEROS | EL UNIVERSAL
Saturday August 03, 2013 12:00 AM
One way of exporting the Cuban revolutionary project powered by an
anti-US ideology was the supply of weapons to countries and
organizations that had troubles to buy them or were banned from doing
so. As a result, a black market with Cuban trademark gained strength.
Sale of weapons by Cuba during the Cold War was part of the scheme of
Castro’s diplomacy. In this way, Cuba formed alliances in all continents
and oxygenated its dependent economy as a satellite of the Soviet Union.
The finding on July 10 of 240 tons of arms of Soviet origin and property
of Cuba onboard the North Korean vessel “Chong Chon Gang,” hidden
beneath thousand sacks of sugar, revives the issue of the underground
business of weapons.
Havana acknowledged being the owner of the weaponry to the authorities
of the Panama Canal. However, it labeled the load as “defensive and
obsolete,” listed stocks of Mig-21, missiles and tanks, and claimed that
everything had been sent to North Korea “for repair” and timely return.
The close ideological ties between Cuba and communist Pyongyang are not
a secret. Therefore, Havana’s lines of argument are hardly credible
according to analysts.
“Cuba seeks a niche in the alternative market of weapons set by North
Korea with countries in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia,”
said Colonel Juan Reynaldo Sánchez, a former escort of Fidel Castro.
A strength scheme
Upon the establishment and internationalization of the Cuban revolution
in 1959, Fidel and Raúl Castro erected a weapon business with the Soviet
help. Most of the arms would reach Angola or Latin America to bolster
“Cuba backed plenty of anti-US regimes and revolutionary and terrorist
groups. Some of them are still alive, trying to impose Marxism. This is
the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” noted Jaime Suchlicki,
the director of the Cuban-American Institute.
The connection with the Soviet Union enabled Cuba to develop a local
military industry with skilled technicians. To date, 80% of Cuban
military materials are of Soviet origin.
“Following the collapse of the socialist field, such industry boasts of
67 sites spread over Cuba, comprising the Military Industrial Union,”
Sánchez spelled out in a paper posted on website Café Fuerte.
The very Cuban Ministry of Defense has contended that the island “counts
on the facilities and the necessary human potential to embark in its
territory on any repair of its proprietary armament.”
To the mind of Colonel Sánchez, economic restraints would be the only
obstacle to undertake such repairs. The Cuban Government has no money to
buy spare parts, let alone new weaponry.
Anyhow, “buying the parts from Koreans and repairing the equipment in
Cuban factories is cheaper” due to labor savings, he warned.
“Is it possible that Cuba managed to buy modern arms from Russia with
Russian credits and even Venezuela’s aid? Suchlicki wonders.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
Source: “Cuba has spurred a clandestine industry of weapons – Nacional y