A number of recent items in the news indicate that President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger may be signaling a significant shift in U.S. policy toward Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Such a shift in policy would be extremely costly both to our national security and to the U.S. taxpayers.
Because an economy run by a Communist dictatorship is never as productive as a free economy, Castro’s takeover of Cuba resulted in a desperate need for outside funds to shore up its economic system. In order to keep the Cuban economy from collapsing, the Soviet Union supplies this outside aid to the tune of billions of dollars.
It is important to Brezhnev to keep this base 90 miles off our coast for the use of Soviet submarines, bombers, and reconnaissance aircraft, as well as to hold open his option to use it anytime in the future as a missile base.
A Communist regime in Cuba enables Soviet missile-armed sub marines, which Deputy Secretary William Clements said prowl along our coasts, to refuel in the Western Hemisphere and thereby save about a twelve-thousand-mile round trip to their home ports in the Black Sea.
If the United States should make the mistake of recognizing Castro, this would make Cuba eligible for U.S. trade subsidized by loans from the U.S. Treasury, just as Russia is receiving now. The principal result would be to shift the financial burden of support ing the Cuban economy off the shoulders of the Soviet Union and onto the backs of the U.S. taxpayers.
Meanwhile, Castro’s Cuba continues to be a base for Communist insurrection in other countries. Last year Castro sent two brigades to Syria to fight against Israel, and other guerrillas to invade the Dominican Republic.
Before that Castro sent guerrillas to make trouble in Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, and Guatemala. In 1972 Brezhnev awarded Castro the highest Soviet civilian decoration, the Order of Lenin, in recognition of Castro’s “outstanding services in the struggle against imperialism,” which means, of course, against America and other free governments.
The recent CBS hour-long interview with Castro proved out of Fidel’s own mouth the crucial nature of the Soviet presence in Cuba. Castro admitted that he has “complete confidence” in the Soviets and in their “loyalty” to the Cuban Revolution. Castro said the Soviets have given Cuba a tremendous amount of aid including wheat, transportation, industrial and electric power equipment, fertilizers, and raw materials. He said that “aid by the Soviet Union has been decisive” and that, “if the Soviets had not helped us, we could not have made it through these critical years.”
To recognize Castro would be to make the mistake of rewarding the chief enemy of the United States and freedom in the Western Hemisphere.