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  1. Wealth
March 16, 2009

The Cassandra of Caracas

By Spear's

And they said I was exaggerating. Now, the newspapers are full of the story they told me could not happen.

And they said I was exaggerating.

Last October I tried to convince numerous UK newspaper editors that Russia might well retaliate to the US establishment an Eastern European missile defence shield and sending a US warship into a Georgia port during the Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflict, by having a Cuban Missile Crisis redux and basing Russian bombers in Venezuela and Cuba, but had no takers. Now, the newspapers are full of the story they told me could not happen.

To confirm my suspicions, I even called Putin’s press secretary, Dimitry Peskov, last October. Mr. Peskov is excellent at his job and diplomatically stated that Russia is pursuing strategic partnerships in all areas that are of benefit to the Russian people (mainly economic) with other countries with similar interests.

While assuring me that pragmatism and not ideology would drive Russia’s plans, he did point out that it seemed biased for the US to be able to send warships into the Black Sea, while balking at Russia doing likewise in the Caribbean.

Now, five months later, Russia, Cuba and Venezuela all admit to exploring the possibilities and Chávez has offered the Russians an entire island.

But the rub lies in the aligned strategic interests: if Obama follows his own political platform and Lula’s advice and lifts the embargo on Cuba, the Cubans will be loath to annoy the Americans for the benefit of the distant Russians who left them swaying in the wind back in 1962, when they pulled their missiles out without even consulting with Castro the minute Kennedy got tough on them.

I doubt the Cubans have forgotten that lesson and would much rather have US dollars pour in. This would leave Chávez as the only real stooge of the Russians in the region – making him look ever more like the isolated clown, much to the delight of Obama and Lula.

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