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STATEMENT OF JAMES D. THEBERGE (After the close of the hearings, a statement and biographical data were submitted by Prof. James D. Theberge for inclusion in the record. The biographical material and statement follow:)
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH James D. Theberge
Director of Latin American Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Consultant on Foreign Policy Research. Former Research Associate, Latin American Centre, St. Antony's College, Oxford University (1969–70); Adviser, Inter-American Development Bank (196669); Member of Vice President Humphrey's Task Forces on Latin America and Foreign Aid (1968).
Head of the Lending Coordination Division, Latin American Bureau, ARA/ AID, Department of State (1965–66) and Economic Adviser to the U.S. Foreign Aid Mission, Buenos Aires, Argentina (1961-64). B.A. Columbia University (1952), M.A. Oxford University (1960) and M.P.A. Harvard University (1965). Author of books and articles on international affairs and international economics.
Mr. Theberge recently prepared a report on Russia in the Caribbean to be published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and edited a book Soviet Seapower in the Caribbean: Political and Strategic Implications to be published in 1972 by Praeger.
STATEMENT OF JAMES D. THEBERGE
Internal Security Committee
October 20, 1971
James D. Theberge! It is the purpose of this brief statement to define Soviet policy, expectations and intentions in the Caribbean with particular reference to Cuba and to outline some of the main opportunities and problems facing Soviet policy there at this time.
Historically, neither Caribbean nor South America have been areas of vital interest to the USSR. Prior to the Cuban revolution, when the Soviets successfully established their first foothold in the Western Hemisphere, this vast region was free from the direct threat or influence of Soviet military power. The successful firing of an ICBM in 1957 made it possible for the USSR to directly threaten the Western Hemisphere and other areas remote from the Soviet homeland with devastating destruction. However, this threat was never credible in view of overwhelming U.S. strategic superiority throughout most of the 1960's before the USSR achieved strategic parity.
The Soviet post-war challenge to the U.S. and its allies has been largely restrieted—at least until relatively recently—to areas around the periphery of the Eurasian landmass. To a large extent this followed from the fact that traditionally the USSR has been a land power and Soviet maritime policy essentially of a defensive nature. However, Soviet interest in the Caribbean and South
1 Director of Latin American Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies. Georgetown University. Mr. Theberge has prepared a study on Russia in the Caribbean to be published soon by the Center and is the editor of a book šoviet Seapower in the Caribbean: Political and Strategic Implications to be published by Praeger in 1972.
America has increased considerably since the Soviets established a politicalmilitary base in Cuba close on the flank of their principal rival. The establishment of a Marxist regime in Chile; leftist-nationalist military regimes in Peru, Panama and for a time in Bolivia ; and the left-ward drift in Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica increase the opportunities for the USSR to establish or strengthen her diplomatic, economic, commercial and maritime relations with the region as a counterweight to U.S. Political and economic influence.
Moreover, the rapid expansion of Soviet naval and maritime power in the 1960's has ushered in a new era in which the USSR is increasingly capable and willing to enter into military commitments further from the Soviet home land to support her foreign policy. With the emergence of the USSR as a superpower enjoying strategic parity, or near-parity with the U.S., the level of Soviet diplomatic and military activities in the Caribbean and elsewhere has increased perceptibly and may be expected to continue to expand along with her naval and maritime capabilities.
The Soviet Union, after a period characterized by caution, relative inaction, and opposition to armed struggle following the 1962 missile crisis, is again pursuing a more active diplomatic and military policy in the Caribbean area. Soviet policy in the Caribbean at present is much the same as her policy else where in Latin America: to neutralize U.S. power, to enlarge Soviet influence by eroding U.S. Political and economic predominance, to defend “socialist" Cuba, and to influence the foreign policy of the Caribbean states so that it is more favorable to the Soviet viewpoint. An anti-Communist government whose foreign policy is pro-Soviet is preferable to a "socialist” state that resists Soviet infuence. In the final analysis, an amenable yet essentially anti-Communist regime, such as Peru for example, suits the Soviet Union better than Tito's Yugoslavia.
While the pattern varies from country to country, the USSR is active on a broad front in the Caribbean. She is employing diplomacy, propaganda, political agitation and infiltration, as well as her commercial, and naval presence to influence the Carribean political environment. The Soviets simultaneously are employing a more active "traditional" diplomacy that seeks “normal” state-tostate relations with bourgeois governments; a military policy of massive build-up of strategic forces and seapower in support of this diplomacy; and “ideologicalmissionary" guidance and support to local Communist, Marxist or Marxistoriented parties and front groups.
Although the policy of the USSR, local Communist parties and other groups loyal to her emphasizes "constitutional" or "legal" methods of struggle, Soviet policy is essentially opportunistic and prepared to support all forms of struggle, peaceful and violent, singly or in combination, depending on the opportunities presented by local conditions. Maintaining "normal" diplomatic relations with Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay has not deterred the USSR from openly intervening in their internal affairs during the past year which led to the expulsion, or threatened expulsion, of Soviet political agitators posing as diplomats.
The Soviets advocate peaceful methods whenever they seem to offer a chance of success or gain and condemn armed revolutionary struggle when failure appears likely. In countries where a peaceful path to "democratic" revolution is blocked, such as Nicaragua, Haiti, and Guatemala, the Soviets are prepared to consider armed struggle as the only possible form of change. The local proSoviet Communist parties must be prepared “to meet any eventually" if power cannot be achieved peacefully. Since the early 1960's the major Moscow-oriented parties in the Caribbean have sought coalitions or "fronts" with anti-U.S. nation. alist groups.
Being realists the Soviet leaders recognize that the "objective" conditions for a Communist victory in the Caribbean and South America are not yet ripe. They believe that the region must first pass through a “popular democratic" revolutionary process on the path to socialism. The backwardness of Latin America requires a "transitional stage" to prepare the economic and political base for socialist reconstruction. Since "objective" conditions are not yet ripe, Communist parties during the transitional stage should, wherever possible, play a prominent role in leftist-coalition governments, radical revolutionary governments or even “progressive" military regimes. The U.S. "stranglehold" on the economy must be broken, strategic sectors of the economy nationalized and broad popular support for communism organized.
While the ultimate Soviet objective is to establish reliable pro-Soviet Communist regimes in the Caribbean and South America, she believes that much work must be done to prepare the ground for Communist victories. The USSR is more interested in practical and immediate methods of reducing U.S. influence and enhancing her own in the hemisphere. Opportunities for Soviet advance in the Caribbean and South America appear to be more favorable today than at anytime in the post-war period. The powerful economic and cultural impact of the U.S. on weak, underdeveloped societies has made her the primary target of local nationalists and the scapegoat of their intractable economic problems and frustrations. At the same time, the Latin American policy of the Nixon Administration is one of retrenchment and inaction-a dangerous pausewhich gives U.S. friends in the area a sense of abandonment and drift. The upsurge of economic nationalism and left-wing military regimes are two trends that are considered by the USSR to be working in her favor since they lead to a reduction of U.S. political and economic predominance and offer opportunities for penetration at minimum risk and cost to herself.
Soviet policy in the Caribbean aims at intensifying and exploiting the antiimperialist potential of the national and petty bourgeosle (essentially supporters of the free market economy) which feels threatened by the intrusion of foreign capital and favors diplomatic and trade relations with the Communist bloc as a counterweight to the U.S. and other capitalist powers. The petty bourgeosie are expected to gradually lose faith in technological and industrial progress and higher living standards achieved through the inflow of capital. The anti-U.S., anti-foreign capital elements of the technocratic and intellectual elite are considered to be responsive to Communist "anti-imperialist” propaganda and are potential Soviet allies.
The nationalist sectors of the middle class are considered to be the decisive force behind the "national liberation" movements in South America and the Caribbean. In time, it is believed that the nationalist middle class will come to power, nationalize U.S. property and break with the U.S. A coalition of Communist, left-wing and nationalist middle class forces, united by their hostility to growing U.S. economic power and frustrated at the pace of social progress, will gain power in peaceful political competition, or may share power through cooperation with "progressive" leftist-nationalist military regimes. Accordingly, U.S. overseas direct investment becomes the unwitting agent of its own destruction.
The Soviets are under no illusion that the peaceful accession to power by proSoviet Communist or Marxist-oriented groups through united front or coalition tactics will be easy in the Caribbean where the communist movement is severely splintered and unity of "left-wing democratic forces” largely a myth. Nevertheless, the victory in Chile of the Popular Unity coalition of Communists, Socialists, Radicals, and radical Christian Democrats represents an important victory for Soviet policy and undermines the position of the advocates of revolutionary violence who frequently receive training and other support from Castro.
It should be remembered that Cuba's intelligence organization (DGI) continues to train Latin Americans in guerrilla warfare and urban terrorism, although Castro is now giving greater emphasis to penetration and infiltration of the armed forces and other institutions. The DGI has an estimated 100 officers training Latin American revolutionaries in a half dozen training camps. However, at present powhere in the Caribbean are the prospects very good for the success of revolutionary violence; nor, except perhaps Guyana, is power or even substantial influence within the grasp of local communist parties allied to "antiimperialist" parties and groups. The Chilean electoral route to power may prove to be no more exportable than Castro's revolutionary way.
As Allende himself pointed out, the election of a Communist or Socialist government requires the existence of Marxist political parties that are free to present candidates in national elections. This situation does not exist in most South American and Caribbean countries. The Caribbean Communist parties generally are either weak, splintered, proscribed or of negligible importance. However Colombia, Venezuela, and Guyana-where national elections will be held over the next few years the Communists are pursuing a modified Chilean strategy and are promoting a broad front or coalition of anti-imperialist and popular forces.
In spite of improved Soviet opportunities as the politics in the Caribbean and South America shifts to the left, it is by no means certain she will be able to turn them to her advantage. Intense nationalism, unless it takes on the com.
plexion of strategic hatred against the U.S., is no more likely to favor Soviet than U.S. hegemony. Moreover, there are a number of factors which tend to inhibit the Soviet Union from a more adventurous policy: the risks and uncertainty of a U.S. reaction to a forward policy and the effect on U.S.-Soviet relations are of primary importance to the USSR. In addition there are the possible costs that further economic and military commitments in the region might entail along with the essential vulnerability of any Soviet position in the hemisphere.
A brief review of Soviet activities indicates that she has been increasing bei political and military presence in Cuba and the Caribbean in recent years and is cautiously seeking opportunities to gain another foothold elsewhere in the hemisphere at minimum cost and risk to herself.
The Soviet Union made considerable advances in the 1960's. Virtually frozen out of Latin America a decade ago, the Soviet Union now has diplomatic relations with thirteen Latin American countries : mainly in South America but increasingly in the Caribbean area. Soviet efforts to establish diplomatic relations likely will focus on the Caribbean mainland and insular republics in the 1970's. Although varying in accordance with the priority attached to the country, about one half of the Soviet embassy staff are intelligence operatives involved in a wide range of non-diplomatic activities. The expansion of Soviet diplomatie presence in the area has increased Soviet subversive activities of various kinds, and this has been especially notable this year in Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Uruguay. There are over 200 Russian agents now at work in the region compared to less than 50 a decade ago.
Soviet naval and maritime presence and interests in the Caribbean and South American waters also has undergone an unprecedented expansion in recent years. Soviet naval squadrons have made six separate visits to Cuba and the Caribbean including the historic first intrusion into the area in July, 1969. A seventh Soviet task force was reported on October 18, 1971 to be heading towards Cuba. In addition to the semi-permanent naval presence the Soviet Union maintains 2030 deep sea stern-factory fishing trawlers permanently based on the $40 million Soviet-built Hanava fishing port. Moreover, Cuba's fishing fleet has been used to smuggle arms and revolutionaries into Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia and possibly other countries bordering on the Caribbean. The trade and fishing agreements between Cuba and Chile signed in February, 1971, gives Cuba the opportunity to use her merchant and fishing fleet to smuggle arins and revolutionaries into Chile for operations against other countries.
Cuba and the Soviet Union also cooperate closely in oceanographic research in the Caribbean-Gulf of Mexico area which has important military applications. There are an estimated 500 Soviet oceanographic specialists in Cuba. The Soviet Union maintains some 8-10 oceanographic research vessels in the Caribbean area at all times as does Cuba. Neither Soviet fishing, which is negligible, nor Soviet shipping in the area justifies the substantial effort she is making to obtain knowledge of the waters and atmosphere of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. There can be no doubt of the seriousness with which both Cuba and the Soviet Union intended to exploit those waters for commercial and military purposes.
The Soviet Union is employing her seapower-not just warships but oceanographic vessels, merchant ships, fishing trawlers and electronic intelligence vessels
as an increasingly flexible, sophisticated instrument of her foreign policy and as a means of establishing her presence in areas considered to be of strategic importance. It would be a serious mistake not to view the growing presence of Soviet seapower in hemispheric waters in this light.
There is now little doubt that the Soviet Union intended to establish a limited Holy Loch-type submarine facility in Cienfuegos at the end of 1970 for the use of her Yankee class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines that are now operating in the Western Atlantic and targeted on the l'.S. mainland. These missiles have a range of about 1,500 miles and carry nuclear warheads.
The attempt to establish a strategic submarine support facility in Cuba in 1970 would have enabled Soviet Yankee class submarines to remain on station in the Western Atlantic nearly twice as long, thereby compensating temporary Soviet inferiority in this type of strategic weapons system-nuclear missile submarines-in the same way that the emplacement of Soviet land-based missiles in Cuba in 1962 by Khrushchev was an effort to improve the weak Soviet strategic posture against the U.S. Soviet military initiatives in the Caribbean, especially the renewed probings in and around Cuba with Soviet naval power. re
flects the belief of Soviet leadership that conventional military forces can and should be used to support Soviet foreign policy and ideological-missionary duties around the world.
The U.S. reaction combined with secret negotiations with Russia in the fall of 1970 discouraged the Soviet Union from servicing nuclear missile submarines in or from Cuba, including servicing from a submarine tender based on Cuba, at least for the time being. It is not likely, however, to be the last attempt the Soviets will make to use Cuba as a naval base or servicing facility for Soviet warships and strategic submarines.
Through the expansion of her naval presence in the Caribbean and hemispheric waters, the Soviet Union appears to be aiming at the further strengthening of Soviet-Cuban political and military ties; accelerating the progressive satellization of Cuba ; demonstrating moral and material support for an isolated and economically unsuccessful Soviet client; conditioning the U.S. to the acceptance of a permanent naval presence in the Caribbean based on Cuba ; and producing insecurity about American territory itself by "revenging" the U.S. encirclement policy of the 1950's.
The Soviet Union and Cuba are both interested in gaining allies outside of the Carribbean area—which is still generally friendly to the U.S.-in order to enable (uba to break out of the diplomatic and economic blocade imposed by the OAS member states in 1964. And the Marxist government of Chile and to a lesser extent the left-wing nationalist government of Peru-is providing such an opportunity.
Although President Allende claims he desires normal relations with the U.S. a revealing sign of his true intentions—far more important than his decision not to meet the broad international law standards of fair compensation for expropriated U.S. copper properties in Chile—is his recent effort to forge a new political alliance with Cuba and to persuade other countries of the Andean bloc to follow his lead.
Allende clearly aims at establishing a broad foreign policy re-alignment in favor of Cuba and against the U.S., Brazil and especially the Caribbean members of the OAS opposed to a policy change towards Cuba. The purpose is to split the OAS into antagonistic political blocs, end Cuba's political and economic isolation and enhance Communist and anti-American influence in the hemisphere.
Cuba's relations with Chile are of highest priority in Havana's foreign policy. During the past year, especially since February, 1971, President Allende and Fidel Castro have made exceptional efforts to strengthen Chilean-Cuban political, commercial, maritime and cultural relations. Havana's involvement in the internal affairs of Chile appear to be growing and accepted by Allende's Marxist regime. Chilean intelligence operators, for example, have been trained in Cuba and Chile by Cuban intelligence in methods reported to be aimed at neutralizing and then controlling Chile's armed forces and security services.
The U.S. understands that Chile is trying to solve her social and economic problems in her own way and it is entirely an internal matter whether she establishes a so-called "socialist", fascist or any other kind of regime. However, if Chile's Marxist leadership becomes involved in the subversion of neighboring countries or in her external affairs attempts to further undermine hemispheric solidarity and inter-American relations she must expect to provoke reactions by her neighbors and those who oppose her foreign policy.
In summary, Caribbean America, with the exception of Cuba, is of low order priority to the Soviet Union but Soviet interest and encroachment is on the increase. On the other hand, the region is of first order strategic and political importance to the U.S. and Soviet conduct is strongly conditioned by the U.S. definition of the limits of tolerable Soviet activity in the area.
The greatest danger to the peace and security of the hemisphere is not the ideology or social system established in Cuba, Chile, Peru or elsewhere. Even the most militant anti-American Communist or military police state in the Caribbean or South America would not constitute a threat to the security of the U.S. and its friends in the area. While such a regime should properly be deplored as a setback for the democratic open society, it could be easily tolerated. Without Soviet support Castro would be a minor nuisance.
The real danger to the peace and security of the hemisphere is that an antiAmerican regime would seek Soviet protection and tempt her to extend her military power in the hemisphere which could prove to be a serious miscalculation on the part of the USSR setting in motion uncontrollable forces that could lead to another major confrontation between the superpowers.