Reaching Out to Our Enemies
“Defending his brand of world politics, President Barack Obama said Sunday that he ‘strengthens our hand’ by reaching out to enemies of the United States and making sure that the nation is a leader, not a lecturer, of democracy.
“Obama’s foreign doctrine emerged across his four-day trip to Latin America, his first extended venture to a region of the world where resentment of U.S. power still lingers. He got a smile, handshakes and even a gift from incendiary leftist leader Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and embraced overtures of new relations from isolated Cuban President Raul Castro” (Associated Press, April 20).
The real question is, does the U.S. really have any hand left to strengthen within these two rabidly anti-U.S. nations, Cuba and Venezuela? It’s not so much a politics of words and ideology that the new administration faces in relation to these two rogue nations. It’s simply a question of facing up to the entrenched alliances that these two countries have already cemented with interests none too friendly to America.
Cuban oil has already stimulated some interesting alliances among a handful of nations that have the jump on the U.S. in the race to exploit this promising oil field at America’s back door. It is estimated that 4.6 billion to 9.3 billion barrels lie beneath the Cuban basin. Cuba has parceled out contracts in this region to a motley group of foreign powers currently bent on developing the Cuban basin oil fields. Indeed, there are far broader strategies at work here than just the pleasure of doing business with Cuban leaders expert at making their political opponents disappear overnight.
The typically Oriental long-term view of China is worthy of note here. China snapped up the ports of Panama and Freeport in the Bahamas some years ago. It immediately set about developing Freeport into the largest container port in the world, also developing an international airport in direct association with that massive port facility. Through the front company Hutchison Whampoa, China is now upgrading the Panama Canal to handle modern bulk carriers and tankers. It is also working together with Venezuela to reopen Cuba’s Cienfuego oil refinery abandoned by Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In Cuba, the Chinese have already reopened an abandoned Russian oil refinery. Much of the oil refined there is believed to be destined for Bahamas’s Freeport. Although at present China lacks the deep-sea penetration technology of U.S. and European companies to enable it to draw oil from beyond the continental shelf, it may readily partner with companies possessing that expertise. With the linkage between resource development in the North Cuba Basin, refining capacity on mainland Cuba, and shipping facilities currently consolidating in the region, China is now well placed to draw, refine and ship oil to slake the thirst for energy of its newly industrialized economy.
However, there are two other key players that are intent on grabbing a slice of the action in the Cuban basin. Not only that, but the Cuban economy is, at present, far more dependent on these players than on China for its viability: Venezuela and the European Union.
The Venezuela-Cuba Deal
About five years ago, the Wall Street Journal exposed that Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez had become the leading single financier for the moribund Cuban economy. Cuba’s deeply entrenched economic sickness, a leftover from the island dictatorship’s almost absolute dependence on Soviet Russia, made it easy pickings for circling vultures interested in taking over where Russia left off following the Soviet Union’s demise. Enter Chavez.
The Venezuelan leader plied Cuba with a much-needed resource: oil. Within two years of his election to the presidency, Chavez concluded a pact with Cuba’s President Fidel Castro, termed the Integral Cooperation Accord. This allows Cuba preferential terms on acquiring up to 53,000 barrels of oil, both crude and refined, daily, which total a third of the island’s estimated energy needs. This has led to Cuba accumulating a hugely inflated debt, due to its clearly apparent inability to pay. Although it is difficult to ascertain the current figure outstanding, these oil shipments from Venezuela, which have become a crucial subsidy to the Cuban economy, totaled $752 million just three years ago. In addition, Chavez, who controls the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere, is making deals to reroute to China oil that his country is currently selling to the U.S.
Whether by design or circumstance, this huge indebtedness of Cuba to Venezuela has placed Chavez in a strong position to heavily influence the future politics of Havana.
There is one other powerful competitor in the race for controlling the U.S. southern gateway and the oil that lies below the seas in the region of the Cuban and Caribbean basins. Consider the relatively unobtrusive penetration into this region of the European Union.
In 2004, Spain rejected its former conservative government and, stimulated by the terror attack at the Madrid rail station, voted in the socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to lead the nation. Zapatero immediately set about normalizing Spain’s relations with Cuba. Although, on the surface, relations between Cuba and the EU remain cool, it is a different story when it comes to EU investors and entrepreneurs.
In 2004 alone, European entities, attracted by the high-risk, high-return opportunities that Cuba uniquely offered, invested over $1.6 billion in loans. One of the prime attractions was Cuba’s nickel deposits, thanks to nickel prices going through the roof because of China’s aggressively expanding economy. EU bankers also finance much of Cuba’s short-term debt in its foreign trade equation.
This flow of capital from the EU has served greatly to plug the hole left by the cessation of Soviet aid in 1991. In fact, although the alliances that Fidel Castro developed with China and Venezuela did much to haul him out of his fall into a self-inflicted economic abyss, it has been the EU financiers and investors who, by far, have underpinned the regime in Cuba since Russian withdrawal.
This support by EU capitalists has also paved the way for the involvement of Spain’s two huge petrochemical corporations, repsol and cepsa. In 2006, British Petroleum sold shares in the prized Campo Shenzi oil field, which lies in U.S. waters within the Gulf of Mexico. Spanish-Argentine energy giant repsol paid $2.17 billion for access to the field, which has proven reserves of near 400 million barrels of petroleum. This EU-based company plans to increase production in U.S. waters in the Gulf to around 35,000 barrels per day. It is the largest private energy company in Latin America. The other Spain-based EU giant active in Latin America and now in the Cuban basin, cepsa, is 49 percent owned by France’s total. This petrochemical conglomerate boasts a strong presence worldwide with operations in Britain, Europe, North Africa and Central America.
The May 1962 edition of the Plain Truth magazine, edited by Herbert W. Armstrong, declared that “the United States is going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Latin America, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce.” Almost half a century on from that prediction, expansion by European-owned oil companies continues to steadily increase linkage with Latin America.
In June last year, the European Union agreed to lift limited sanctions against Cuba. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, this was “a hotly contested move designed to encourage the country’s new government under Raul Castro to liberalize. [T]he move was a victory for Cuba and put the EU at odds with U.S. policy” (June 20, 2008).
This move by the EU came only three months after the Vatican suddenly appeared on the scene as the very first of the murderous Raul Castro’s guests. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone touched down in Havana just one day after Cuban leader Fidel Castro announced the end to his 49-year reign of terror. Time magazine observed that this was “perfect timing for the Vatican, which is aiming to play a central role in the island nation’s transition into what many hope will be a post-Communist future” (February 20).
Was there a connection between the Vatican’s early endorsement of Raul Castro’s regime and the lifting of EU sanctions?
Join the dots!
With close ties to Venezuela, Cuba and China, Iran is also gaining influence on America’s southern doorstep. In May 2001, Cuba’s Castro and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed that Iran and Cuba would join “hand in hand” to work to defeat America, according to the official Iranian news agency irna. Iranian President Ahmadinejad, during his visit to Venezuela in September 2006, signed a joint deal with Hugo Chavez to explore the Orinoco Basin, estimated to contain 230 billion barrels of extra-heavy crude oil. On that occasion, commenting on the increasing ties between Iran and Venezuela, Chavez declared that the two countries are “united now and forever with the Iranian revolution, which has proved to the world that it has become the fuel for revolution.”
It is this connection between the revolutionaries involved in the spread of Islamist terrorism that is pushing the EU harder and harder toward a powerful reaction in the not-too-distant future against the Islamic crescent. While this is destined to work to the destruction of much of Iran’s efforts at Islamic expansionism, what is lost to most commentators is the rising danger that it poses to the continuing security of America.
Last month, Russia let off a shot across President Obama’s bows when the chief of staff of Russia’s long-range aviation, Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev, told reporters that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez had offered “a whole island with an airdrome, which we can use as a temporary base for strategic bombers.” Zhikharev also included Cuba as another option for hosting the long-range nuclear bombing planes. That ought to give the foreign-policy shapers in the new president’s cabinet a deal of food for thought!
To have such a challenge issued so blatantly to this current administration by Russia should serve to indicate just how far down the power scale the U.S. has slid since 1962 when Nikita Kruschev backed down under challenge from President Kennedy and pulled his nuclear weapons off Cuban soil!
Yet, even as the U.S.’s enemies entrench themselves at America’s southern gateway, those charged with the responsibility of U.S. security pursue their naive appeasing policy. As one European source recently opined, “Those aren’t smiles on the faces of U.S. competitors’ faces. They’re smirks!”
The plain truth is that the anti-U.S. liaisons that are building, increasingly rapidly, in the Caribbean are destined to end not only in a future threat to U.S. security, but even in the mounting of a siege at our very back door!
For the real history on just how the once most powerful and feared single nation on Earth reached this gigantic foreign-policy impasse, and for an outline of the profound changes ahead for this nation as a result, obtain your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy. You would be well advised to closely watch events surrounding Cuba, Venezuela and the entire Caribbean basin from here on.