>– Russian Foreign Minister on Four-Nation Latin America Tour, Visits Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico
– Lavrov Denies Rumors that Russia and Guatemala also Contemplating Joint Military Drills; Center-Left President Colom to Visit Moscow in March
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in the midst of a four-nation Latin America tour that took him to Cuba and Nicaragua, both communist-controlled states, as well as Guatemala and Mexico. Guatemala’s center-left government is pro-Cuban and also beholden to Venezuela’s red dictator Hugo Chavez by way of Petrocaribe, which sells oil to participating states on preferential terms. Meanwhile, the Soviet strategists are arming the Mexican drug cartels with the intent of destabilizing US national security by creating a failed state south of the Rio Grande.
On February 11 Lavrov arrived in Havana where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro, a long-time KGB asset along with his cadaverous older brother Fidel. Cuban state television showed images of the cordial exchange, which follows the official visits of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Cuba in November 2008, of President Castro to Russia in January 2009, and Russia’s top general, Nikolai Makarov, to Cuba in September 2009. Comrade Raul asked Lavrov to convey his greetings to the Russian president and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia’s KGB-communist dictator. Also participating in the meeting were Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Russia’s ambassador to Havana, Mikhail Kamynin.
Upon signing three documents of bilateral cooperation, former Soviet apparatchik Lavrov gushed: “I believe that all this work has enriched and strengthened our relations, converting them into a truly strategic association.” Granma, the website of the Communist Party of Cuba, relates that the Russian and Cuban foreign ministries established a plan covering the 2010-2011 period that will “fortify the excellent existing political links between the two governments via periodic interchanges on general, regional and multilateral issues.” Russia has already pledged to upgrade the Soviet-era weapons and air defense systems of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, as well as train Cuban soldiers in up-to-date combat techniques.
In true communist fashion, Moscow and Havana released a joint statement that acknowledged the 65th anniversary of the victory over fascism, which “underlines its significance and contains the parties’ intention to contribute to the consolidation of the ideals of peace, greater understanding and friendship among the peoples.” The joint statement also acknowledged the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the reestablishing of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba, significantly “confirming a will to celebrate that important date.”
For his part, relates Granma, Lavrov reiterated Russia’s “total condemnation” of the US economic blockade against the communist island. Russia’s foreign minister intoned: “Russia and Cuba share many things, such as our adherence to common ideals, international law and legality, to the UN and to joint efforts to resolve all kinds of problems. We share a very strong human warmth between the Russian and Cuban peoples and this warmth gives our relations a solid foundation.” Lavrov wrapped up his Cuban cruise by placing a wreath at the monument to Jose Marti in the Plaza of the Revolution.
The Kremlin-run media has been gloating over the resumption of open ties between Russia and Cuba, right under the nose of “US imperialism.” On February 12 Russia Today showed its true color (red), by extensively quoting a Kommersant article by Vitaly Makarov. Prior to the staged dissolution of communism, Comrade Makarov worked in the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. “There is no longer an ideological opposition between Russia and the US,” he writes, “and the opportunities of Russian and American cooperation with Cuba have grown significantly.” Comrade Makarov continues:
Lavrov’s visit to Cuba is devoted not only to the bilateral relations. The agenda is much broader, which is only logical. Cuba may occupy a new place in the world architecture if the process of creating polycentric international system is successful.
One of the main issues of current politics–resetting Russian-US relations–requires not only overhauling many bilateral principles, but also taking into account a number of international factors, including those linked to Cuba.
That country was one of the main irritants in our relations with Washington for many years. Since the breakup of the USSR we have become estranged from Cuba, which we once called the Island of freedom. However, not long ago a new rapprochement between Moscow and Havana began.
Clearly, Washington is watching this suspiciously, and it could not be otherwise. Cuban geopolitical situation for centuries has determined the competition between the Old World and the New World for influence on that country. And this competition continues, affecting, in particular, Russian-US relations.”
Cubans have already been following the way of independence for half a century. There is no longer an ideological opposition between Russia and the US, and the opportunities of Russian and American cooperation with Cuba have grown significantly.
At the same time, these opportunities depend in many ways on taking into account the positions of all sides, especially Cuba as the most sensitive partner in relations with the giants in this group of three. That is why Moscow supports the demand that the blockade against Cuba should be lifted.
South American countries are increasingly becoming a new center of international political alignment. They now have their own interests in world politics that in many ways do not coincide with US interests. But Russia’s course towards strengthening partnership with the countries of the region is a strategic one, and is not aimed against other states, as some analysts say.
Of course there’s no longer any “ideological opposition” between Russia and the USA, as Makarov comments above. The Soviets feigned their demise and a socialist president, Barack Hussein Obama, sits in the Oval Office. Peaceful East-West convergence is precisely what the Soviet strategists wanted and have thus far achieved.
After pumping up Russia’s Cuban allies, Lavrov flew to Managua where he met with his Nicaraguan counterpart Samuel Santos Lopez (pictured below) and Lopez’s boss, Daniel Ortega (pictured above). Afterward, Lavrov made the following announcement that conjures up the unpleasant scenario of Russian troops arriving in Central America: “Russia and Nicaragua are preparing for joint military exercises. Russia will continue its humanitarian aid to Nicaragua.”
For his part, Ortega announced that Nicaragua and Russia plan to boost efforts to eradicate drug trafficking and organized crime: “We have military and technical cooperation to jointly strengthen the potential of our army and police in fighting against drug trafficking and organized crime.” To further that cooperation, the Nicaraguan and Russian foreign ministers announced the creation of a Nicaragua-Russia Commission that will not only coordinate cooperation in the suppression of the narcotics trade, but also in the areas of telecommunications, transportation, infrastructure, and agriculture.
Incidentally, that the Moscow-Managua Axis would announce its commitment to combating the drug cartels is disingenuous at best since the role of Ortega in the Soviets’ narco-subversion plot against the West, at least back in the 1980s, has been well documented at this blog and in books like Joseph Douglass’ Red Cocaine (1990).
Lavrov’s official trip to Nicaragua was an historic first, since no Soviet/Russian foreign minister has ever travelled to Managua since the two countries established formal diplomatic ties in 1944. Lavrov, however, is not the first high-ranking Russian official to visit Nicaragua since Ortega became president again in January 2007. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, the GRU’s liaison with Latin America’s guerrilla armies during the Cold War, travelled to Managua twice in 2008 and once in 2009. Reliable KGB asset Ortega made his first post-Cold War pilgrimage to Moscow in December 2008. Fellow Sandinistas Lopez and the country’s previous top army commander, General Omar Halleslevens, have also materialized in Moscow.
After conspiring with Ortega, Lavrov flew to Guatemala City where he was welcomed by President Alvaro Colom, the country’s first center-left leader since the military deposed the communist-backed President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954. Lavrov also conferred with his Guatemalan counterpart, Haroldo Rodas. In a joint press conference with Rodas, Lavrov announced that Russia and Guatemala had developed a framework to jointly combat drug trafficking and organized crime that will involve training, joint exercises and technology transfer. As with the first and second Sandinista regimes in Nicaragua, any Kremlin involvement in the war against drugs must be viewed as a tactical feint to hide the fact that the Red Mafiya/SVR/GRU is arming the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Mexican drug cartels.
Colom, moreover, indicated that he was interested in seeing Russian oil and gas companies exploit Guatemala’s energy reserves, as well as Russian companies develop the Central American country’s telecommunications and tourism industries. Lavrov denied reports that he and Colom had discussed the subject of “military exchange” (drills?), although his host had apparently voiced interest in that prospect. Apart from then President Vladimir Putin, who visited Guatemala in 2007 to inaugurate Russia’s first embassy, this is the first time that a Soviet/Russian foreign minister has visited Guatemala. President Colom plans to visit Moscow in March.
The Guatemala Times summarized Guatemalan-Russian relations in the following way: “Both countries advocate the creation of a democratic multipolar world order, respect for the principles of international law, sovereignty and consideration of the legitimate interests of all countries, and a stronger role for the UN as a universal mechanism for preserving peace and strategic stability.” In other words, Guatemala City and Moscow both reject a US-dominated world and support world government.
After rubbing elbows with the Guatemalan president, Lavrov wound up his Latin American excursion by flying to Mexico City, where he was received by President Felipe Calderon and Calderon’s foreign minister Patricia Espinoza Castellano. In the Mexican capital Lavrov attended the opening of a Russian Language Center at the National Polytechnical Institute. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesentity Andrei Nesterenko provided a synopsis of the agenda under consideration by Russian and Mexican leaders. Joint cooperation in the oil and gas sectors was high on that agenda. Nesterenko comments:
The visit is intended to promote a further strengthening of the political dialogue between our two countries, and practical headway in mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields.
People in Russia regard Mexico as a state that is traditionally friendly to us, and as earnest and trusted partner in the international arena. Our relations are one of the main orientations of Russia’s foreign policy in Latin America region.
Russia and Mexico are brought together by striving to exercise democratic principles in practice in efforts to settle international problems of current concern, and strictly observe international law, primarily the United Nations Charter, and strengthen the central role of the UN and the UN Security Council as the universal instrument for the maintenance of peace and settlement of conflict situations.
Both countries agree that a serious threat to universal security is posed by such phenomena as international terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism. Moscow and Mexico City are interested in establishing an effective interaction in the interests of counteracting new threats and challenges of our times, first of all the trafficking of narcotics, and transnational organized crime.
Our two countries devote appreciable attention to the problems of overcoming the global financial and economic downturn and with this end in view actively interact in a multilateral format in the interest of reforming international financial institutions, and raising the efficiency of regulation and transparency of the financial sector.
Our cultural and humanitarian contacts are notable for traditional dynamism. Days of Russia in Mexico and Days of Mexico in Russia (festivals) are held on a regular basis, and a wide experience has been gained in exchanges of cultural treasures.
Nesterenko concludes with the troubling observation: “Many Russian scientists work in Mexico on a contractual basis; joint research projects are being implemented, and Mexican specialists are trained in Russian institutions of higher learning.” As with Russia’s other Latin American allies, we see that Mexico City and Moscow both reject a US-dominated world and support world government. As above, too, any Kremlin involvement in the war against drugs must be viewed as a tactical feint to hide the fact that the Red Mafiya/SVR/GRU is arming the FARC and the Mexican drug cartels.
Analyzing Soviet Strategy in Latin America in Light of the Announced Russian-Nicaraguan Military Drills
The announcement of Russian-Nicaraguan military drills should be viewed, we believe, in the context of other developments that suggest the incremental formation by Moscow of a Red Dawn-style military coalition in Latin America:
1) On September 10, 2008, one day before the seventh anniversary of the 911 attacks, the Russian Air Force dispatched two supersonic Blackjack bombers to Venezuela, providing President Chavez another opportunity to thumb his nose at the USA. Under the watchful presence of two Russian bomber crews, the Venezuelan armed forces repulsed a mock US invasion. In November the Russian and Venezuelan navies held a combined drill in the southern Caribbean Sea. Afterwards the Russian destroyer Admiral Chabanenko transited the Panama Canal in a “first” not witnessed since the Second World War.
2) In October 2008 Nicaragua Today published an article alleging that Ortega and Chavez are plotting to provoke a war with Colombia in order to justify a military assault against the US ally and summon Russian intervention in the Caribbean region. Both Venezuela and Colombia are presently militarizing their common border in expectation of hostilities as Chavez rants against the US-Colombian pact that will see the deployment of 800 US counter-narcotics troops in the South American country. The same Nicaragua Today article contends that Russian special forces, as they reportedly did in the 1980s, are training in Nicaragua’s remote North Atlantic Autonomous Region, a haven for cocaine trafficking.
3) In November 2008 Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sechin travelled to Managua, where he pledged to rehabilitate the Soviet/Cuban-built runway at Punta Huete, north of Lake Managua. This never-used military airstrip, which featured anti-aircraft batteries, can accommodate the Kremlin’s Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers. These, of course, could be brought into Nicaragua under the guise of the military drills announced last week. Moscow has also pledged to upgrade the weapons systems of the Nicaraguan National Army, known as the Sandinista Popular Army until 1995 and still under Sandinista control. In December 2008 the Russian destroyer mentioned above weighed anchor at the port of Bluefields, on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. There it unloaded what was supposedly generators and computers for the Nicaraguan army and police.
4) Last September it was first announced that the Nicaraguan military is scheduled to hold a two-month drill with its Venezuelan counterpart between May 1 and June 30, 2010. Although a skeleton crew of 30 Venezuelan soldiers is expected, the number of Venezuelan warplanes and warships to be brought into Nicaragua has not been revealed. Both Ortega and Chavez have articulated their commitment to transforming the political-economic-cultural bloc known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas into an “anti-imperialist” (meaning anti-USA) military pact. Russia, moreover, has expressed its interest in joining this international alliance, which includes Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and several Caribbean states.
During last year’s Honduran crisis, the interim government of President Roberto Micheletti charged that Venezuela and Nicaragua were planning to invade Honduras and re-install Manuel Zelaya, now in exile in the Dominican Republic. It is a published fact that within 24 hours of the June 28 coup that deposed Zelaya, Chavez threatened to throw his military against Honduras. Latin America’s Red Axis does not accept the legitimacy of duly elected President Porfirio Lobo and, thus, Honduras remains an irritant to the region’s leftist leaders.
5) In a possibly related story, last December state-controlled Russian wireless communication company Yota installed a 4th-generation Internet network in Nicaragua in record time. In a previous post we speculated that one day the Russian Armed Forces might show up in Central America and utilize this communication system that has definite military application. It seems this may be the case. On February 12 Russian Foreign Ministry spokesentity Nesterenko, quoted above, commented on Nicaragua’s Kremlin-assisted boost into the Cyber Age:
The past year saw the realization of the first stage of the project to deploy a Mobile WiMAX-based fourth generation wireless communication network in Nicaragua. There has been created a Russian-Nicaraguan joint venture “Yota – Nicaragua” (founder from the Russian side being the company “Yota”,” which is a part of the Rostekhnologii State Corporation). In December 2009, in Managua, the Yota-Nicaragua telecommunications network was put into trial operation.
Just in time for the retooled version of Red Dawn to hit the screens, we are awaiting word for the return of Cuban troops to Central America in what appears to be a quietly growing Soviet-Cuban-Venezuelan-Nicaraguan military quartet.