Soviet/Cuban relations 1985-1991
In March 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). By 1985 relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba had been in existence for over 25 years and were extremely close in both ideological and trade terms. Soon after coming to power, Gorbachev implemented the policies of perestroika and glasnost while Fidel Castro introduced the campaign for rectification of errors in Cuba. There were great differences in these campaigns since the Cuban one was much more ideologically driven than its Soviet counterparts. This study is an examination of the period from March 1985 to the end of 1991. This is done in three broad areas: official Soviet policy towards Cuba; the unofficial Soviet policy towards Cuba (an examination of academics and social/political commentators work on Cuba) and the Cuban perception and reaction to the events in the Soviet Union. This study also attempts to establish whether a rethinking, with the benefit of hindsight, has taken place in the years since 1991. In 1985 official and unofficial Soviet policy towards Cuba were identical but as the Gorbachev period continued this began to change. Official policy began to become contradictory in style since Moscow started "veiled" attacks against aspects of its relationship with Cuba while at the same time still defended the island in the face of continuing US hostility. Moscow also stated that the differences in Soviet and Cuban policies were because each campaign was designed for conditions specific to each country but that both had the same goal: the improvement of socialism. Although official policy became more outspoken, at no point during the Gorbachev era did it call for the termination of relations with Cuba. Unofficial Soviet policy started to change as the effects of glasnost permeated Soviet society. This became noticeable from 1987 onwards and reached the point that an open debate on the relationship was taking place. By 1991 unofficial policy was vastly different from the official Soviet line towards Cuba. The Cuban government also stated that the programmes were for situations specific to each country but that both had the same goal, that being the improvement of socialism. The unofficial Cuban line mirrored the official one but by 1990 this started to change as it started to criticise Soviet policies. In 1991 the Cuban government also started to do this. Due to the difficult situation in the socialist world the Cuban government from 1989 had been trying to increase its hard currency markets. A general re-thinking with the benefit of hindsight has not taken place on either side but an examination of participants' memoirs is still a valuable study to conduct. Although it offers very little new evidence for this period it does, however, give more credence to the events that took place between March 1985 and December 1991.