Created: 11/21/1967

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of national estimatks

Bolsheviks and Heroes: The USSR and Cuba







SUBJECT: Bolsheviks and Heroes: The USSR ood Cuba


* This mcniorandun was produced solely by CIA. It wns prepared by the Office of National Estimates and coordinated with the Office of Current Intelligence and the Office of Econonic Research.


Brezhnev think* that Castro llkind of ldlct, end Castro probably Isn't very fond of Brezhnev either. This is still supposed toecret, but other syoptoos of serious strain in the Soviet-Cuban relationship have beccoc publicly conspicuous. The bonds which *oin then still sees to be such stronger than the issues which divide then; nevertheless, the Soviets cay now be close to losing their patience, nnd the Castroites never hod very iruch to begin with.

Bolsheviks hove always proceeded from the fact that socialist revolution isonspiracyroup of. Experience showsanifes tot ions of national insularity Inevitably weaken the positions of coenunists in the face of

the class enemy Marxists-Leninists have always

understood that socialism cannot be transplanted from one country to the other by means of armed.


The nixed blessings of allianceuba have never been so dramatically demonstrated as during the events surrounding theh anniversary celebrations. For one thing, the Cubans directly affronted the Soviets byember of Csstxo'a third teas to head the Cuban delegation to the Moscow festivities after the Soviets had officially announced the planned attendance of Cuban president Dorticos. For another, either because of Soviet insistence or Havana's resistance, this worthy did not even deliver the custoeary congratulatory address to bis Soviet hosts. Next, the Cubans compounded the insult by boycotting the traditional diplomatic reception in Moscow presided over by Soviet chief of state Podgorcy. And finally, lest anyone ciss the point, the Cubans were the first to leave Moscow after the celebrations were over (presumably racing the Rumanians to the airport for the honor).

?. The Soviets for their port demonstrated Little of the restraint that has heretofore characterized the public handling of their recalcitrant Caribbean ally. Just prior to the anniversary gathering in Moscov, Soviet publications carried obituaries of Che Guevare, and also articles by two of Moscow's more obedient Latin American communist party leaders, that seemed to challenge the value of Castro's revolutionary philosophy and to conveyconcerning Guevara's deathmoremug "we told you so" than on expression of sympathy to the bereaved. In any case, the Soviets reacted to the Cuban diplomatic snubs during the anniversary celebrationseasure of acrimony. For example, in his lengthy discourse on the achievements of the "Greatrezhnev took an oblique but unmistakable swipe at Castro's support of rebellions elsewhere in Latin America and even at Castro's personalized and heroic style of revolution (see quotation above).

3. ow point has been reached in the relationship of the two communist partners. The question thus arises as to whether the divergencies that hove been accumulating over the past few years and have now broken more blatantly into the open augur any fun-lementnl change In Moscow's support of the Cuban regime.



1*. Although Castro himself has in the past alluded to attempts by Moscow's supporters in Latin America to persuade the Soviets to join the "economicf Cuba, apparently he has long judged that Moscow could, not afford to suspend orits economic assistance. In fact, Castro has evidently felt so confident of the USSR's inability to abandon support of Cuba that his spokesmen have in effect endorsed Albanian criticism of Soviet assistanceyoke on the shoulders" of recipients, thus demonstroUna Cuba's ability to defy the bond that feeds it. True, Castro has at times displayed some sensitivity to Soviet views or. one issue or another, but Moscow's official positions are rarely an overriding consideration in bis pursuit of causes either at heme or abroad. Indeed, the modest Cubans have specifically criticized the USSR's management of its own affairs, its interference in Cuban affairs, its handling of the Vietnam war and the Middle Eastts aid to Latin American governments, and its attitude toward revolutionary tactics in the Third World.

5. umber of reports suggest thatin the face of all thisthe Soviet leaders ore now prepared to get tough if Castro docs not menu his ways. One of the more Interesting 3nd

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reliable reportsrezhnev conversation with leadersuropean coasunist party during the height of the Middle East crisis. Brezhnev is aaid to have launched Into an esotional tirade against Castro's docestic and foreign policye cloined that the Soviet Union has never had such an "expensive friend" as Cuba, and then threatened that if Castro did not soon cone to his senses Cubaince the Soviets were unprepared to keep the Cuban leaderndefinitely. At one point in the conversation, Brezhnev went so for as to coopare the Cubons unfavorably with the Chineseo line that was recently echoed in Prevdaatin American coaaunist party leader.

6. This is not to say, of course, that the Soviets do cot see some advantages in their alliance with Cuba. Surely, they arc pleased to point to their sponsorshipocialist "beacon" in the Western Hemisphere, and they ere well aware that Cuba standsyebol of Soviet willingness and ability to provide support even to renote allies. Ihey recognize that theirwith Cuba serveseainder of the USSR's statuslobel power andropaganda device with which to taunt the US. They are also happy at times with Castro's nuisance valueis the IE.

7. By now, however, the Soviets must be increasingly impressed with the liabilities associated with their support of Castro's Cuba. They arc painfully owere that their economic aid alone has cost them an average of0 million annuallyIigure including drawn credits and grants as wull as the sugar purchase subsidy). They knew that Cuba's importanceodel for other fledgling nations has greatly diminished. More important, they have found that Cuba does not affordood foothold for incursions into other Latin American states. Cestro's alienationajority of Latin American communist party leaders, his insistence on the need for revolutionary change through violent tactics, and his refusal to cooperate withilitant and non-communist forces of the left in Latin America have created more difficulties than opportunities for Moscow.

6. The Soviets' relationship with Castro thus provides themontinuing demonstration that the burdens imposed by cocmitments to small allies can exceed the benefits. But bow to disengage when the political and economic costsommitment exceed the returns? Specifically, how could the Soviets pull out of Cuba and look at the world or themselves in the morning? It wouldonfession of monumental failurethe first and


only socialist enterprise in the New World abandonedend it would seriously damage Soviet prestige and be widely interpretedictory of sorts for the United States.

is true, however, that the Soviets have hadpractical experience in these mattersin China, and in Albania. pecial set ofgoverned Moscow's actions in each of these cases,were scoe similarities in Soviet behavior. In eachSoviets sought through subversion or economic pressure orbring the other party to heel. In each instance, ofSoviets failed and then withdrew. Public disclosure ofof the situation and an open exchange of insults

did not occur until the relationship had already passed the point of no return. The Soviets, of course, insisted in each case that, their withdrawal had been compelled by the sins and crimes of the other side. Finally, in each of these cases, the Soviets were willing to withdraw even at the risk of great nana to their national prestige and the unity of the cooaunist movement at large.

is, ofpecial case ant; poses Moreover, times have changed, Khrushchev noin Moscow, and the present Soviet leaders are surely nore

cautious than he. Then too, given bis personal peculiarities end enthusiasms, there con be no assurance that Castro's upset will persist. Relations between Castro and the USSR almost reached the race-calling stage after the Soviet withdrawal of missiles free Cubaut in3 Castro journeyed to the Soviet Union and there proclaimed that be hadmagnificent impression of Comrade.oubt one of the cost brilliantove everhus, Castroaving just snubbedh anniversary cereoonics, eight conceivably travel to the USSR8 and put his fickle arcs around Brezhnev. The Soviets for their port could swallow their pride and accept the embrace. For that cotter, assuming no effort to moke up, it is conceivable that the Soviets and the Cubans could maintain their alliance in some kind of repair for the Indefinite future, even if their quarrels should break completely Into the open.

J Given the strong atotives of each side to aaintain their

j J relationship, we do not believe that Soviet-Cubanill comeead in the near ten- or that Soviet-Cuban ill-wis likely to leadreak in relations coarparable to, say,oviet split. But with each side apparently believing that

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the other cannot afford to become really obstreperous, either or both could easilyajor miscalculation. The emotional content of the quarrel, obviously intense on the part of the Latins, now seems to have assumed considerable proportions on the Russian side as well. The effects of this emotionalism cannot be predicted, but symptoms of stress should be watched for. It the quality of Sino-Soviet polemics is an indication, then it would appear that, once exposed. Communist nerves ore as raw as everybody else's, maybe rawer.

12. If the Soviets should threaten to curtail their economic support unless the Cubans behave themselves in Latin Americaand perhaps Xosyginint of this when he visited Havana last JuneCastro's reaction might be unrestrained. Tbe Soviets, in turn, might cot beind to humor any such lack of restraint. Perhaps indeed, they have already entered Justrocess of moves and countermoves made in hurt and rage. Perhaps in the end, if the Soviets really do get tough, Castro might feel impelled to moke important concessions. That,

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