Cuba's defence diplomacy : hard and soft power, 1959‑2018

Kruijt, Dirk (2020)

CITATION: Kruijt, D. 2020. Cuba's defence diplomacy : hard and soft power, 1959‑2018, in Liebenberg, I., Kruijt, D. & Paranjpe, S. (eds) 2020. Defence diplomacy & national security strategy : views from the global south. Stellenbosch: SUN PReSS, doi:10.18820/9781928480556/04.

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Cuba, a country with eleven million people, played a significant military and development role from the 1960s to the late 1980s, and is still an influential donor country. Its reputation was built on support to revolutionary and national liberation movements in Latin America and in Africa. Additionally, Cuba also was a provider of medical and humanitarian assistance to the global South. Cuba’s military were involved in training and advising Latin American revolutionaries and provided assistance in several African colonial and postcolonial wars. During the ‘special relation’ with the Soviet Union and the COMECON countries, Cuba had a redoubtable military and intelligence apparatus, at the same time procuring explicit defence against a potential invasion by the United States (US) and supporting multiple revolutionary and resistance movements in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the COMECON, Cuba restructured its economy, strongly supported by its Armed Forces as a management instrument and as a food and security provider. In the 1990s, when its strong military position was weakened, Cuba still preserved and even expanded its medical and literacy assistance to many countries. During the period of the Latin American Pink Tide governments (2000‑2015), Cuba was again a high-profile player in Latin American and Caribbean politics.

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