President Obama’s Visit to “Perfidious Cuba”

Fidel Castro has repeatedly sought to deceitfully assuage the international community, as evidenced by excerpts from his 1959 speeches. Three years later, in December 1961 Castro finally admitted, “I am a Marxist-Leninist and shall be one until the end of my life.” The following year, Castro urged the Soviet Union to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States, with missiles from Cuba. President Obama is cavalier in dismissing history noting that “I am not interested in having battles that started before I was born.”

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By José Azel | March 21, 2016

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Cuban government posters distributed in anticipation of the first visit of a U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo

In the context of international relations and diplomacy, “Perfidious Albion” or “Treacherous England” is a historic term used to reference the unfaithfulness, deceit, and diplomatic treachery employed by Britain it its duplicitous pursuit of its self-interests.

Perfidious, of course, signifies one who does not keep his word, and Albion derives from an ancient Greek name for the island of Great Britain. The term became a routine expression in France in the 19th century, following the French Revolution. Keeping with the etymological tradition, I am referring to “Perfidious Cuba” to explore the deception employed by the Castros’ Cuba in its international relations.

Since his first days in power, Fidel Castro has repeatedly sought to deceitfully assuage the international community. Here is a sample from his 1959 speeches:

  • “We will re-establish all rights and freedom, including freedom of the press;”
  • “I know that you are worried whether or not we are communists. I want to make it clear that we are not communist. Neither myself nor the movement is communist;”
  • “I am not going to let anyone call me a communist, because I am not a communist. I am telling the truth;” and,
  • “I do not support communism. Cuba will not nationalize or expropriate private property. We will instead seek investments.”

Just a few months later, Castro began the process of taking over all private property.

It was not until nearly three years later, in December 1961 that Fidel Castro finally came clean with his political philosophy: “I am a Marxist-Leninist and shall be one until the end of my life.”

The following year, Fidel Castro urged the Soviet Union to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States with missiles from Cuba.

President Obama is cavalier in dismissing history noting, “I am not interested in having battles that started before I was born.” For those, such as President Obama, that may think the above examples are irrelevant ancient history, it is only necessary to highlight the following instances:

  • In 2011, Cuban officials negotiated with the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah to set up an operational base in Cuba;
  • In 2013, the Cuban government sought to mislead the world by hiding weapons systems under sacks of sugar in a North Korean ship sailing from Cuba to North Korea- a country under a United Nations arms embargo;
  • In 2014, an unarmed U.S. Hellfire missile was somehow mistakenly shipped to Cuba from Europe. This happened just as the Obama administration and Cuba were negotiating what ended up being the current rapprochement between the countries. Quite likely, Cuba’s espionage capabilities were involved in this mysterious “mis-shipment.” It took Cuba over 18 months to return the missile;
  • In 2015, Fox News confirmed reports that Cuban military operatives had been spotted in Syria purportedly joining Russian forces in support of the Assad regime; and,
  • In 2016, Cuba reaffirmed its smearing accusations that the United States deliberately introduced the dengue virus in Cuba to cause an epidemic.

Notwithstanding the evidence of Cuba’s perfidiousness, President Obama has announced, in a display of diplomatic asymmetry, that he would visit Cuba in March thus further legitimizing Castro’s military dictatorship in the eyes of the world.

The President is not only blind to the obvious, but also blind to his own blindness. His artifices of thought are what psychologists call cognitive illusions.

The legacy in international affairs that President Obama seeks will not parallel that of President Nixon’s historic visit to China. Most likely, his legacy will mirror that of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s failed foreign policy of appeasing the enemies of democratic governance. Chamberlain conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler in the Munich Agreement of 1938 only to see Germany occupy the remainder of Czechoslovakia six months later, followed by the invasion of Poland in 1939.

In terms of international diplomacy, a presidential visit is the highest recognition one government can bestow upon another. What has perfidious Cuba done to deserve such an honor from the United States of America.


José Azel arrived in the U.S. in 1961 from communist Cuba as a 13 year-old political exile with Operation Pedro Pan, the largest unaccompanied child refugee movement in the history of the Western Hemisphere. He is currently a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) at the University of Miami. Dr. Azel earned a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Ph.D. in International Affairs from the University of Miami, and is author of Mañana in Cuba: The Legacy of Castroism and Transitional Challenges for Cuba. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.