Cuba Under Siege expertly explores how Cuban society has been affected by 50 years of “nonstop hostility from the world’s most powerful nation” through extensive historical analysis, first-hand interviews with Cubans – from average citizens to the President of the Nacional Assembly – and expert comment.
Bolender’s insightful study is accessibly written and is essential reading for all those interested in the insidious reach of US imperialism. It definitively demonstrates that U.S. foreign policy has failed on its own terms and helps illustrate the importance of international solidarity.
The work considers the concept of siege and how it has affected other societies, particularly post 9/11 United States which has seen an increase in surveillance, indefinite detention, rendition and enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. Bolender skilfully exposes the hypocrisy of US policy – both vis-à-vis its championing of civil liberties and its policy toward Cuba.
America’s encirclement of Cuba has manifested itself in the form of military, economic, propaganda and psychological warfare whilst a deadly history of terrorism orchestrated from the United States – claiming the lives of over 3,500 Cubans – is “almost completely unknown in the international community”.
As well as providing a comprehensive investigation of the “unknown history” of terrorism against Cuba – including biological attacks, invasions, assassination attempts, covert operations and over 700 acts of terrorism – the book provides a systematic analysis of the economic blockade. Bolender considers how 50 years of siege has defined the history of Cuba, including pushing the Caribbean nation to a relationship with the Soviet Union. Finally, the book examines ongoing economic changes in Cuba and considers whether America policy against the Revolution is also changing and how the siege can end.
Cuban loyalists may take issue with Bolender’s analysis of besiegement within Cuba – including civil restrictions and social limitations – but the discussion is necessary to avoid accusations of bias and bring America’s ‘dirty war’ against Cuba to a broader audience. Furthermore, it is an important weapon against those that accuse Cuba of violating human rights. As Bolender demonstrates, Cuba’s reaction to siege is no different to other countries:
“Every action Cuba has taken to combat siege warfare can be seen in the mirror of America’s response to 9/11 and its historiography of the past 200 years when under threat of war”.
Since losing hegemony over its neighbour in 1959, the Cuban people have received no respite from U.S. intervention. As Bolender demonstrates, Cuba faces rigorous international criticism whilst the besieger diminishes and denies the very existence of its actions. This study provides a robust and academic catalogue of those actions and is a vital counter-attack to the dominant US narrative.
Dan Smith for CubaSi Summer 2013