Cuban and American denials
On June 3, the Wall Street Journal made a sensational announcement, claiming that China and Cuba were in talks to establish a wiretapping base in Cuba, just 100 miles off the coast of Florida. The Cuban authorities were quick to react and immediately denied these allegations. Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, Cuban Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, called the information “totally false and unfounded”. He stressed that Cuba “rejects any foreign military presence” in Latin America, including US military bases.
Denials have also been issued by the Biden administration. John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the Wall Street Journal article was not accurate. He, however, stressed that the administration is concerned about China’s influence activities in the region.
Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder also refuted the newspaper’s reports, saying they had no knowledge of a Chinese spy base being set up in Cuba.
However, a few days later, a senior US official admitted that the information from the Wall Street Journal was partially correct. According to this source, the Chinese wiretapping base has actually been operational since at least 2019. This reversal has raised questions about the initial statements of the American authorities and has sown confusion as to the veracity of the information.
Chinese and Russian concerns and projects in Cuba
Besides the wiretapping base, other disturbing plans involving China and Russia in Cuba have come to light. The Wall Street Journal reported that China is also considering setting up a military training center on the island. U.S. officials have expressed deep concern about Chinese military activities in Cuba, pointing to potential implications for regional security and U.S. interests.
Russia, for its part, has also shown interest in Cuba. In January 2022, the country said it would not rule out sending troops to South America if NATO did not limit its activities in the region. Given Cuba’s history with Russia, including the 1962 missile crisis, the island is a key topic in Russian strategic thinking. It should also be noted that the Russian authorities had already considered re-establishing a military presence in Cuba six years ago.
Russian-Cuban talks and future prospects
On June 27, the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, received his Cuban counterpart, General Alvaro Lopez, in Moscow. Discussions between the two countries covered a wide range of military and military-technical issues. Although the precise details of these talks were not disclosed, the Russian Ministry of Defense underlined the excellent Russian-Cuban relations and spoke of military-technical projects and closer military cooperation.
It remains to be seen whether these plans for Chinese wiretapping and military training bases, as well as Russian interest in Cuba, will materialize. The situation raises regional security concerns and raises questions about the reactions and actions that the United States and neighboring countries will take. Regional surveillance and cooperation are essential to confront these growing geopolitical challenges and preserve stability in the Western Hemisphere.