The United States has imposed several commercial, economic, and financial embargos on Cuba, making it illegal for US corporations to do business with the communist nation. The relationship between the two countries for very long has been mired in conflicts. Every subsequent US government has had knots to make with the communist regime in Cuba. The Biden administration has expanded on the “maximum pressure” policy of Donald Trump and slapped sanctions on the Caribbean nation’s officials and institutions accused of human rights abuses.
Cuba has been a traditional Russian ally. Now that Russia is caught up in a war with Ukraine, Cuba has been feeling an economic pinch. Of particular concern to Havana is the fact that it might suffer a food shortage if its economic woes are not addressed on an immediate basis. Still functioning under a Communist model, Cuba needs to secure food supply for its 1.2 crore-strong population.
India Swoops in to Save Cuba
Cuba has found an odd substitute to Russia to help it tide over its economic downturn. India has swung into action and will ensure that Cubans do not have to starve due to a tense global environment and disruptions in supply chains.
India has decided to extend a 100-million-euro Line of Credit (LOC) to Cuba. The primary goal of such a line of credit is to help the communist nation evade a food shortage in the short term. Financial Express quoted a senior Indian government official as saying, “Talks are in advanced stages to finalise the LOC of euro 100 million to Cuba. It is being extended in an effort to help the country to meet its food grain shortage and more. The LOC is expected to be handed over later this month.”
Once finalised, the Line of Credit will enable India to export food grains and other edible goods to Cuba. Recently, India had also extended a $75 million Line of Credit to Cuba to help with the installation of solar panels.
Meanwhile, the Cuban ambassador to India was recently quoted as saying, “Both sides can complement each other in the biopharmacy, renewable energy, IT and agriculture sectors. We want to import Indian tractors. We would also like to have more Indian investment in the food processing industry.”
Cuba’s Alienation and India’s Acceptance
Cuba has been under an economic blockade by the United States for over 60 years now. The blockade has crippled Cuba’s economy. The American sanctions are the primary factor behind Cuba reeling under the ongoing economic distress.
You see, an American blockade is not just manifested in the form of the United States sanctioning a country. The United States also disallows or at least tries to stop the economic engagement of its partners, allies and friends with countries sanctioned by it.
Yet, India has been consistent when it comes to extending Lines of Credit to Cuba and other countries in Latin America. Effectively, it has been bypassing America’s blockade of Cuba. Now, the Cuban ambassador to India has even called on New Delhi to invest in the Mariel Special Economic Zone in Cuba, which he described as a gateway to not only Latin America, but also to the Caribbean.
The question that now arises is this: What will Joe Biden do now? The ball is in his court. Will he go soft on the communist nation, like his godfather Barack Obama did? Or will Biden continue down the path of his arch-nemesis Donald Trump and accelerate the blockade on Cuba?
Whatever Biden does, one fact has now pronouncedly been established – India is not a country that operates from within the shadows of some proverbial “superpowers”. India’s foreign policy is independent and autonomous, and under the Modi government especially, any pivot that serves the national interests of India is given utmost priority, notwithstanding the misplaced sermons of any world power.