Former Antigua-Barbuda PM opposes any new Russian military base in Cuba
BASSETERRE - A former prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Lester Bird, has urged the United States and the Caribbean to speak out against Russia re-establishing a military base in Cuba.
The Russians are considering restoring military bases in Vietnam and Cuba, Cold War flash points and lasting symbols of the enmity between the US and Soviet Union.
The defence minister in Moscow, Nikolai Pankov, was quoted earlier this month by Russian news agencies as saying that Moscow is "rethinking" the decision to close the bases.
Bird rejected what he contends would be a bad decision, and argues for the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace.
“I don’t think that the next president is going to allow Cuba carte blanche to be able to allow Russia to once again embed itself in the Caribbean and even Latin American countries are saying that we want this area to be a zone of peace and that was the methodology that we used when I used to attend CARICOM meetings. The real notion is the Caribbean must be a zone of peace and if he’s gonna go and once again re-establish the Russian presence in Cuba we in the Caribbean are going to have a problem on our hands,” he said.
According to the former prime minister, a Russian presence in the Caribbean would be dangerous for the whole hemisphere.
“America cannot allow Russia to go into Cuba, so we’re back to 1962 all over again, where John Kennedy had to flex his muscle. The question is what is CARICOM gonna do about it? Are we going to side with Putin? Are we going to side with the United States?” Bird asked.
WINN FM pointed out that Russia and Cuba are sovereign nations if they are allies they can take decisions in their own best interest.
“No they cannot anymore willy nilly do it. In the days of the confrontation of communism and the west there was a vacuum that existed that allowed them to do that but I am saying to you that I don’t think that the United States is going to sit by and allow Cuba and Russia to establish a situation which is in confrontation with the United States and if you ask me what I mean I think it may come to the point of confrontation. That is what is possible, they can’t just take the position that ok, we heard it is a free situation and that they can go back in as it was before. The situation is not the same and I think that CARICOM and Latin America better begin to understand what is about to happen and to head it off at the pass, it is very, very vital,” Bird countered.
Bird, who is a backbench MP in the Antigua parliament, said Russia and the US returning to a cold war situation is untenable.
Recent tensions between the two are being seen as a stepping stone to such a development.
“We have to be able to use our influence, such as it is in the United Nations and in other forums, to try and explain both to the United States and to Russia that those days are over, where they can just because they have nuclear weapons, that they cannot in fact control what happens in the world,” he said.
By Ken Richards