Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cuba and Argentina During the Dirty War

Newly declassified documents show that Cuba and Argentina had a close and positive relationship during the era of the Dirty War.

Although they kept it quiet, Argentina's dictators had a gentlemen's agreement with Castro. Under the pact, Videla supported Cuba's bid in 1977 to join the Executive Council of the World Health Organization, a diplomatic feather in Castro's beret. The quid pro quo was that Havana stump among nonaligned nations to name Argentina to the United Nations prestigious Economic and Social Council. Apparently Cuba's vote was the 18th and decisive ballot, landing Argentina the coveted UN seat. 
Both sides profited from the arrangement. "The Cubans always, always supported us and we supported them," Gabriel Martinez, then Argentina's ambassador to Geneva, said, though no one appeared to be listening at the time. 
The secret cables help explain the prolonged bonhomie between the two otherwise inimical regimes, highlighted by the cordial encounterbetween Castro and Argentine General Reynaldo Bignone, during a summit of nonaligned nations, in New Delhi, in 1983. 
It also shines a light on why Castro could carry on for hours in the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana railing against right-wing tyrants but never raise his voice against the Argentine junta, even as it threw scores of discontents in the dungeon or into the Atlantic.

Fidel Castro had quite a lot in common with Henry Kissinger, both consummate realists and friends of the junta. Ideology goes out the window for what you perceive as a critical national interest. If this means accepting the deaths of thousands, so be it.


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